Once your divorce is complete, you may be ready to start living your life. Yet, before you can officially move along on that path, you will need to complete some changes to documentation. Your post-divorce paperwork checklist, as we like to call it, includes a list of things to do now that you have your divorce decree in hand.
You may find some of these tasks a bit challenging. If you need any guidance in the process or circumstances change, reach out to the Law Office of James A. Graham for experienced guidance. Our divorce attorneys in New Orleans are always ready to work with you and support you through this legal process.
Your “checklist” could be a bit different from what is listed here, and that is just fine. However, this list should get you thinking about all of the changes you need to make and plan for in the coming weeks after your divorce.
Do you want to change your name?
You have the right to change your name if you would like to do so. A name change is sometimes included in the actual Judgment of Divorce, though a Judgment is not required to change back to name at time of marriage. Doing this during the divorce proceeding is the easiest option, but you can do so any time after as well. You will need to apply to have the name changed by the court itself. Do this in the parish court associated with where you live (or Vital Records).
Update your driver’s license and state identification
It may also be necessary to update all of your documents and legal identification if you change your name. Again, you can do this in a court of law during the proceeding to have your name changed. Then you will need to update the associated providers.
You can also bring a copy of your divorce decree to the local Department of Motor Vehicles, where you obtain your driver’s license or state identification. This will allow you to update your driver’s license.
Updating your utilities
It is not just important to change your name on your documents but also to update who is responsible for your accounts. It may be very important to you to ensure your spouse is no longer listed on your accounts and that full ownership of them is transferred to you. That includes your utilities.
It is important for you to contact your utility companies directly and follow their steps for updating your account. They may wish to see the divorce decree that outlines specifically who is taking ownership of the property and assets. You will need to put your name on these accounts instead of your spouse’s name or have their name removed.
During the divorce proceedings, decisions about property ownership are made. A core component of that will be changing the ownership of necessary documents. This will include:
- Second homes
- Business places of rent or ownership
- Other types of real estate or titled property you own
The goal here is to ensure that all documents change hands, and if you are changing your name as a component of this process, you need to ensure that your new name is present on all documentation.
Titles and deeds typically need to be updated with the titling agency. Keep in mind that if you have a loan on any vehicle, you will have to go through the process of changing the title and loan documentation. Contact the lender directly for steps to follow for this process.
Update all retirement accounts
Think about your retirement accounts next. These accounts were also likely a part of the division of property during the divorce. Whether they are large or small, you need to update these accounts. They need to be put into your name solely. More so, if you have a beneficiary listed, change that to the party you hope to receive the funds should something happen to you, such as your child or sibling.
You will need to contact your financial advisor, investment funds, or bank for this type of change, depending on who owns the account and manages it for you.
Do not forget bank accounts
Next, do the same thing for all bank accounts. Typically, it is best to close out old accounts and open new ones with only your name. That may sound easy enough, but the process can be complex depending on how you use those accounts:
- Look over your previous bank statements. Write down any auto payments coming out of them.
- Transfer those auto payments to a new account so that they are not canceled when you close your existing account.
- Look for any deposits being made into your account, including payroll and child support. If you get any type of benefits, be sure you document those accounts. Then, make adjustments to where those funds are going to be deposited.
Work with your banker to make these adjustments. They can help you with all types of bank accounts, including checking and savings, money market accounts, as well as credit cards and other loans you may have through the lender.
If you have credit cards through other lenders and credit card companies, you must also update that information. Do that as soon as possible so that no one has access to your accounts. Remove your spouse from any joint accounts or, if they will not remove them, close out the account and start a new one in your name only.
There is a lot to think about and plan for, but you are not alone in this process. Follow your post-divorce paperwork checklist here, but also contact our divorce attorneys at the Law Office of James A. Graham for guidance and support throughout the process. We are confident we can guide you to making the best decisions for your needs going forward. Set up a consultation to speak to our attorneys today by calling our office or submitting our contact form.