Whether you worked it out through mediation, collaborative law or old-fashioned negotiation, you have succeeded in developing a divorce agreement that you can both live with. The next step is to submit it to the divorce court for approval, after which you are issued a divorce decree. Your decree is now legally binding, meaning that both of you are bound by its terms, which can be enforced by the family courts.
Get a certified copy of your divorce decree and keep it somewhere safe. You will need to be able to refer to the terms to ensure you and your ex remain in compliance.
There is more to do at this point. Now that your divorce decree is finalized, you need to make the changes called for in your agreement, and other changes:
Change your beneficiaries. Chances are, your ex is still the beneficiary listed on your life insurance policy, retirement accounts and brokerage accounts. If you do not change this beneficiary listing, your ex could remain the legal beneficiary.
Buy any insurance required by your agreement. It’s common for divorce agreements to require life insurance with the children as beneficiary, health insurance for the children, or other insurance. Be sure to buy these policies right away.
Put in place any division of your retirement accounts. If you divided any retirement accounts like IRAs, 401(k)s or 403(b)s, you need to take steps to effect this division. Send a copy of your QDRO to the plan administrator and make sure it is accepted.
Transfer any property you divided. This might include anything from a vehicle to a stock plan. Make sure you make these transfers promptly.
Change the title to your car and update your insurance. You should be able to change the title with your ex’s signature. Be sure to let your insurance company know to remove your ex from your policy, or cancel the policy and buy a new one.
Remove your ex’s name from your mortgage and title, if possible. In most divorces, one person ends up keeping the home. Now that you’re divorced, it would be best if that person were the only one responsible for the payments – and the only one at risk if a foreclosure should occur. However, you may need to refinance the home to accomplish this.
Update your estate plan. Similarly, your spouse is most likely the person you left your assets to in your will or estate plan. Update these documents immediately. You may also have listed your spouse on a power of attorney or healthcare directive. Revoke those powers and choose a new.
There may be other things on your list. If you have questions, ask an experienced divorce attorney.