A Checklist for the Newly Divorced Woman
Recovering from a divorce takes time. One of the best ways to cope with this (or any other) emotional trauma, is to go into extreme problem-solving mode. Keeping yourself busy and productive will hopefully keep you away from negative coping strategies, like shopping, eating, drinking, etc… And productivity is what you are going to need in order to get these important items taken care of:
Who gets the house and cars? These assets are going to need to be officially ‘re-titled’. You can handle the cars via a trip to the DMV, but the house will likely require the assistance of an attorney.
Who gets the mortgage? Here are a few options. Sell the home and pay off the mortgage. Refinance the mortgage. Ask your lender for a divorce mortgage assumption (although not all lenders will allow this). As long your name remains on the mortgage, you will be liable for any missed mortgage payments – regardless of what the divorce decree says.
Who gets the credit cards? Ideally, these debts should be paid off prior to settlement to avoid the following complications. In community property states (like Wisconsin), both spouses can be held liable for debts accrued during the marriage even if both spouses were not listed on the account. If both spouses were listed on the account, then both spouses remain liable. Creditors are not required to remove one spouse’s name and they are not bound by your divorce decree. You will need to follow the advice of your attorney.
Who gets the bank account? Open a new bank account in your name only, if you do not already have one.
Who gets whose 401(k)? If you will be receiving a portion of your husband’s 401(k) via a QDRO, you will need to open an account to hold these monies. CAUTION: If you are younger than 59-1/2 and you are going to need to withdraw from a QDRO-funded account, be very, very careful. If things are set up incorrectly, a 10% early distribution penalty may apply to your withdrawals.
Who will you leave your money to now? Update your Will and other estate planning documents. You will also need to change the beneficiary designation on each of your retirement accounts and insurance contracts (unless you truly want your ex-spouse to inherit).
This list is not exhaustive – by any means. Consider hiring a financial planner or a financial coach to keep you moving forward.
The information provided is for educational and informational purposes only. This should not be construed as legal advice. Should you require legal advice, please contact a legal professional licensed to offer and counsel legal advice in your area.