General

  • Divide all property according to divorce decree.
  • Re-title ownership of assets, including your home and all motor vehicles, and inform  mortgage company, if any, of changes in ownership of real estate.
  • Change the name of responsible party on utility bills, and notify auto insurer.
  • Update your mailing address with credit card companies, banks, state motor vehicle department and insurance companies.
  • If your name was changed as a result of the divorce, get a new social security card, driver’s license, passport and credit cards.

Financial Conditions

  • Review your budget by monitoring income and expenses.
  • Update financial plan and review all investments.
  • Change beneficiary designations on life insurance, 401ks, pensions and IRA accounts.
  • Close joint safe deposit boxes and post office boxes, and open new ones, if needed.
  • Obtain a new copy of your credit report to make sure that the accounts you intended to close were actually closed and that your credit agency file has been updated.
  • If you were married for at least 10 years before divorce, you are entitled to make a claim against your former spouse’s Social Security.

Retirement and Estate Planning

  • If a pension, 401k or IRA was divided as a result of the divorce, make sure a Qualified Domestic Relations Order was prepared by the attorneys, agreed to by the court, submitted to the fund administrator and implemented.
  • Prepare new wills and trust documents.
  • Review your estate plan, and update if necessary.

Insurance

  • Obtain life insurance naming your former spouse and/or children as beneficiaries to ensure continued support if you should die, if required by the divorce decree.
  • Make sure you are covered by health insurance, either through COBRA benefits, through your employment or via self-insurance.
  • Make sure you understand the terms and conditions of all insurance policies.

Taxes

  • Get social security numbers of your ex-spouse and children, as they may be needed for tax returns.
  • Ask lawyers and experts involved in the divorce to provide a written document indicating the portion of fees that can be deducted under IRS Code §212.
  • Retain all taxes returns and supporting papers for at least 3 years.
  • If you received assets from your former spouse in the divorce, request tax basis records immediately after the divorce is finalized.

Child Support, Alimony and Custody

  • Keep records of alimony and child support payments made to, or received from, your former spouse.
  • Since alimony and child support are typically paid as a percentage of the former spouse’s income, spouses should request W-2s, Form 1099, Schedule K-1 and Form 1040 from a former spouse after January 1st to verify income and calculate proper support.
  • Keep records of your children’s medical costs, including insurance claims, copays and unreimbursed medical expenses. Such costs are typically split in some percentage after the first $250.
  • Custodial parent should maintain a record of the costs of raising the children and compare the costs with the child support being paid by the non-custodial parent.
  • Track all costs once children enter college. Contribute to college savings and tuition payments in accordance with divorce agreement or judgment.
  • If co-parenting is an issue in the divorce, keep records of how the other parent’s visits with children went and identify any specific problems that arose.
  • Keep your scheduled visitation times with your children.
  • Pay all support when due.
  • Update children’s school records about contact information for you and your former spouse.

(This excellent Post-Divorce Checklist was distributed by WithumSmith+Brown, PC, Certified Public Accountants, at the 18th Annual Conference of the New Jersey Association of Professional Mediators (NJAPM). I attended the conference yesterday. I am a member of the NJAPM Board of Directors and the Chair of NJAPM’s Estate and Elder Mediation Special Interest Group.)

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