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During their course of the marriage, a husband and wife may arrive at a point where disputes and discord between them cannot be reconciled. The husband and wife may file a divorce either mutually or as a contested divorce where one spouse files a divorce petition against the other. The court may grant a divorce after considering all the facts and circumstances when the marriage is beyond repair. However, the legal formalities relating to divorce does not end here!
Once the divorce is finalized by the court, there are certain post-divorce actions to be taken by both the husband and wife. A post-divorce action comprises of legal actions in support of the divorce granted by the court. Here’s a complete guide to the 8 most important things to do after getting the divorce:
Divide all property as set forth in the divorce decree.
File for child custody
File for maintenance
Make sure that your name has been removed from any debts or loans that are no longer your responsibility.
If you change your name (such as by reverting to your maiden name) as a result of the divorce, notify all of your creditors of the change.
Change your name on your bank accounts and checks, or open new accounts in your name only.
Change your address on your bank accounts and checks.
Change the beneficiary on your life insurance policy, if permissible under the divorce decree.
In most states you can ask, as part of a divorce, to get a maiden name or former married name restored (if you forgot to ask you have to file a separate court case). It’s always a good idea to talk to your divorce attorney about name changes early-on, so you can figure out when and how to smoothly get your name changed. After the divorce, you will need to show certified copies of the divorce decree to Social Security, the US Passport agency, state driver's license office, banks and so on.
Some divorces end with antagonism, and if you need to protect yourself, it may be necessary for you to get a restraining order against your former spouse. However, most well-written settlement agreements contain language to cover such events, so violations may be addressed by contempt. Regardless of a big problem with such actions is that people fail to document events with police reports, photos and receipts. Document hostile encounters, including times and dates. Report any situations to the police. Do not ignore them. The good news is that if you prepare for it in advance, you will be better able to protect yourself and in a better position overall.
You may find that you can't get your ex-spouse to hand over property or cooperate with the decree. Things become even more complicated when you’re dealing with property in another state. Fortunately, you don't have to settle this all alone, and other states will recognize most divorce decrees. To request enforcement, you generally must file a contempt case, and since contempts are complex, discuss the pros and cons with a lawyer before filing. Contempts are costly and sometimes a lawyer “warning letter” can avoid a contempt case.
If you are the custodial parent or have been given spousal support, you have a right to ask the state to collect for you via payroll deduction. If you did not obtain such an order when the support issue was ordered, and it involves child support, your state child support agency can help. All states have an IV-D office that enforces child support orders. They won’t charge you for this service, but they don’t collect spousal support themselves. If you need assistance to collect alimony, you may need a lawyer’s assistance.
If houses or vehicles have been transferred in the divorce decree, you may need to retitle them. If you had a lawyer, the lawyer can prepare deeds and other documents. Note that some property with debts owed(like vehicles) may not be able to be retitled in some states until the loan is paid off. Do not delay in transferring land. Delays may allow creditors of the ex-spouse to record liens against what should be your property.