Divorce has this innate ability to wreck even the most calculated, reasonable person – at least temporarily.
It's the death a dream, of what the future was supposed to look like.
Our Birmingham divorce lawyers know that this loss takes time to mourn. We also understand, though, that it's critically important for you in the wake of all this to get organized – financially.
The goal here is to make the transition from married to single as seamless as possible, and to ensure that your financial future is secure.
You can start off by putting together a master sheet that includes the divorce judgement or agreement. This is going to tell you how much you're owed, how much you have to pay, when these obligations must be met. It should also indicate whether you have to transfer titles, deed certain property, set up a payment plan and possibly even arrange for the exchange of certain personal effects. Make a calendar. You may be able to arrange some of this to be taken care of through direct deposits or online banking automatic schedules. Confronting it all at once can be wrenching, but it will be more so if the process drags on because you didn't simply address it efficiently in the first place.
Secondly, go through all your finances with a fine tooth comb. Make sure that any joint accounts you shared are closed. Ideally, this is something you would have done even prior to the divorce agreement, but this is a good opportunity to triple check. Pull your credit report to see if there are outstanding balances your ex racked up in your name that you may not be aware of. Better to find out now. Plus, if you both have access to a joint checking account, any money you deposit there can legally be accessed by your ex. this include paychecks, IRS refund checks, etc.
Thirdly, meet with your attorney to draw up a new will. You'll also want to establish your durable power of attorney and your health care power of attorney, and asset beneficiary. Chances are, even if you're on good terms, you don't want your ex making life-and-death decisions for you. This helps to ensure that your new status is legally reflected and your current and future assets protected.
Next, you'll want to work out your post-divorce health benefits, particularly if you were on your spouse's plan. Legally, you have some recourse to maintain coverage through COBRA, but that's only going to be good for a finite amount of time. If you do this as possible, you can make sure arrangements are in place so that your new health coverage will kick in as soon as you need it to.
And finally, you'll want to tie up those lose ends, most notably, your last name. If you took your spouse's last name when you married, as so many do, you'll want to take your divorce papers to both the driver's license bureau as well as the local Social Security office in order to obtain a new license and Social Security card. With these, you can then begin contacting your bank, retirement office and credit card companies to return the accounts back to your former name.
If you are contemplating a divorce in Birmingham, contact Birmingham Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.
Five Post Divorce Financial Tips, Sept. 21, 2012, By Nancy Van Tine, The Huffington Post