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A Checklist To Help You Manage Post-Divorce Finances

Congratulations, you have successfully navigated a very difficult time. Most divorces are emotionally and financially draining. In financially-complex divorces, the effects are often magnified and extended over months, or even years. Once the divorce is completed, there is often cause for celebration and relief. Unfortunately, your work isn’t quite done yet.

The divorce is over, but your planning is not.

Despite all that you have gone through, you may be disappointed to discover that all your divorce related financial matters do not neatly resolve upon the signing of the settlement documents. Yes, your agreement will say exactly what must be divided and how much goes to whom, but it’s quite likely you will still need to keep your attorney and divorce financial advisor close-at-hand to work through the practical details of how the agreement is implemented.

Download & Print the Post Divorce Financial Checklist

Some of the post-divorce financial matters you’ll face—name, address, and emergency contact changes, etc.—are simple housekeeping. Just make sure you have copies of your divorce decree to provide to all who will require it. Other issues may become a matter of your very livelihood and warrant serious attention.


Important post-divorce checklist items:

  1. Look after your credit. Cancel any joint credit cards that remain. If you haven’t established credit in your name alone, attend to that immediately.
  2. Disinherit your former spouse. With your divorce finally in the rearview, you probably don’t want your ex to inherit from you should you die. Alter your will and other estate planning documents accordingly.
  3. Change beneficiary designations. Update insurance policies, retirement accounts, pensions, trusts, annuities, and anywhere else you may have listed your former spouse.
  4. Split retirement plans according to the terms of your divorce settlement agreement. If the specifics of this aspect of your settlement have not yet been spelled out, you will need expert guidance. While different division schemes may look equitable, their administrative costs and tax consequences could vary widely. To divide 401(k)s or other pension plans (but not IRAs), you will need a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) from the court to instruct plan administrators how to pay out the appropriate benefits.
  5. Set up support reminders. Create a schedule that allows you to seamlessly transfer the required amount of support. Strategies such as automatic bank transfers can help reduce undesired confrontation.
  6. Sell or refinance the marital home. If your agreement is for it to be sold and the proceeds divided between you, then see to it. If you are keeping the home, refinance the mortgage in your name alone.
  7. Research your health insurance options and apply for COBRA, if necessary. Keep in mind that COBRA coverage is temporary, and you will ultimately need your own policy.
  8. Devise a spending plan for your post-divorce lifestyle. Your financial circumstances have likely changed because of your divorce. Take the right measures by working with someone to develop a comprehensive financial plan.
  9. Going forward, you will still need legal and financial advice. Be sure you have expert help with estate planning, retirement savings, investments, taxes, etc. Seek out professionals who work specifically with divorced spouses.

Have a Question About Post Divorce Finances?

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