The Divorce Process Isn't Necessarily Over When the Divorce Order is Signed
Even after you are divorced, there may still be some matters of significant importance for you to attend to before you have completely resolved all the legal issues arising from your marriage. The following is a partial list of issues that may need to still be addressed after your divorce.
Division of AssetsOften, your order will require you and your ex-spouse to divide, transfer, or close out accounts or other assets. This may be as simple as dividing the contents of a bank account or as complicated as rolling over a retirement account. You should make a list of each asset that you or your ex-spouse has been ordered to split or transfer, and take note of whose responsibility it is to do so. If the account in your name, that is this most likely your responsibility; if the account is in your ex-spouse's name, it is most likely their responsibility; or, if the account is in joint names, then you both may have to take steps to close or transfer it. It would be a good idea to meet with your attorney once your divorce order is signed, to ensure that you are clear on what responsibilities you and your ex-spouse have.
Health Insurance CoverageOnce a divorce order is signed, it often will result in the automatic termination of health insurance coverage that is provided by one spouse's employer to the other ex-spouse. If you were the spouse receiving benefits under your ex-spouse's policy, then there are steps you will need to take to secure ongoing coverage for yourself. First, federal law may allow you to apply for a three-year continuation of insurance coverage through your ex-spouse's employer. This is called "COBRA coverage," and you typically must apply for it within sixty (60) days after your divorce order is entered. Alternatively, with the Affordable Care Act having been enacted, you may have access to a number of different private health insurance policies, completely independent of your former spouse's policy. There are any number of websites, including healthcare.gov, which can help you search for such policies. Given the research and application processes involved, health insurance coverage is something that you should be investigating well before your divorce is final.
Beneficiary ChangesYou should take the time to review all existing wills, trusts, life insurance policies, annuities, pension and profit sharing plans, and any other accounts or instruments under which you may have named your former spouse as a beneficiary. It is possible that your divorce order requires you to keep your former spouse as a beneficiary on some account, such as a life insurance policy for the benefit of the children. However, if you are not required to name your former spouse as a beneficiary, then you may wish to promptly change your beneficiary designations. Depending upon the nature of the benefit, the divorce may not automatically terminate your ex-spouse's beneficiary status, and something could happen to you that would result in your ex-spouse receiving benefits that you do not want him or her to receive.
Other IssuesThe foregoing are only the more common matters that may require your attention immediately following your divorce. It would be advisable after your divorce order is entered to meet with your attorney to assess what steps you need to take that may not be apparent from the language of your divorce order itself. If you have any questions about obligations or issues that you may need to attend to following your divorce, you should contact an attorney in your jurisdiction to assist you.