You made it. The judge just signed your final order, and you’re officially divorced. You’re relieved, frazzled, probably a little numb, and—if you’re like most people—wondering where you afford to carve out time for a nap in your busy schedule.
Don’t pour the wine or settle into your pajamas just yet, though. The ink might be dry, but that doesn’t mean your work is done. Now that all those hard-fought decisions have been authorized, it’s time to put your divorce order into action.
Here’s a look at some of the essential, post-divorce tasks you might not have thought of yet, and why you might want to keep your trusted, Neal Ashmore attorney around for a few of these post-divorce services
Once a judge signs your order, you are officially divorced. While this is a huge milestone, there is still a litany of other tasks to take care of before you can relax. Some you can do on your own—after all, it doesn’t take an attorney to file a final order at the courthouse, or change your name with social security.
Others, however, will likely require the post-divorce services of your favorite family law attorney. Some of which could include:
- Ensuring that all assets and real property are transferred properly;
- Getting your financial accounts in order;
- Filing your QDRO to ensure receipt of future retirement benefits;
- Setting up payments for timely child support, and/or alimony;
- Drafting a new will and testament;
- Enforcing the terms of your order; as well as,
- Modifying the terms of your agreement, as needed.
Here’s a closer look at some of these, and how the Neal Ashmore team can help you.
1. Transferring Real Property and Other Assets
The division of marital property is one of the most hectic aspects of a divorce, and it will be important to see that the terms of this hard-fought battle are carried out correctly—especially for big ticket items like the family home.
If one spouse is planning on keeping the house, you may be required to refinance your mortgage (so that it appears in your name, only), and remove your ex from the old deed. On the other hand, you might be planning on selling the home and splitting the proceeds. Either way, a trusted family law attorney can make sure the process is executed as swiftly and painlessly as possible.
Your attorney can also be utilized to help shift the titles on cars and recreational vehicles, as well as oversee the proper transfer of other assets outlined in your order. If they refuse to comply in a timely manner, you might also need a lawyer’s help to petition the court to hold your ex in contempt.
2. Getting Your Finances in Order
Mortgages and titles aren’t the only financial concerns you’ll have to worry about. Once divorced, you’ll want to make it a priority to:
- Change your name on any all loans, debts, and credit cards;
- Close out joint accounts and safety deposit boxes;
- Change your tax filing status;
- Update health insurance plans, costs, and beneficiaries;
- Apply for, and start building credit in your own name; and,
- Refinance any debt that you were awarded, so that it appears solely in your name.
At Neal Ashmore, we understand that it takes a village to get divorced, which is why we work in tandem with a certified financial expert to get things done right. This will be especially helpful for clients with complicated portfolios, investments, and retirement accounts.
3. Sorting Out Your Retirement
Speaking of retirement, one financial element you won’t want to overlook on your post-divorce checklist, is filing your QDRO, or “Qualified Domestic Relations Order.”
This legal document is issued by the court, and filed directly to a retirement provider, requiring them to pay a former spouse their percentage of payouts, once the plan is activated.
While the Texas Family Code doesn’t specifically require you to file a QDRO in order to receive benefits, for divorces that involve retirement plans it’s almost always the best course of action, for two main reasons:
- It simplifies things, by allowing you to receive payments directly from the provider; and,
- It gives you as much authority over the benefits, as though it were your own, individual plan.
This second point is pretty significant, especially if your ex wants to keep working past retirement age, but you want to start receiving benefits immediately, sometime down the road.
4. Setting Up Support Payments
In Texas, you aren’t allowed to pay child support directly to your child’s other parent. Instead, all support payments must be processed through the Texas Child Support State Disbursement Unit, which you can submit via:
- A credit or debit card;
- Postal mail;
- Cash or money order;
- At a certified payment kiosk;
- Bank auto draft; or,
- Wage withholding.
Of the various methods, wage withholding is one of the easiest and most effective, since Texas courts automatically include an “Order to Withhold Support” with any divorce that requires child support.
A wage garnishment order gets sent directly to the payor’s employer. This instructs them to take child support out of a paycheck each month, before depositing funds into a personal account. The money is then sent directly on to the state disbursement unit (who then distributes it to your spouse), meaning you never have to worry about late payments or bounced checks.
Spousal maintenance is also usually handled through wage garnishment, though, couples are free to opt out if they’d prefer a different method.
5. Drafting a New Will and Testament
Post-divorce services aren’t just about handling property, debts, and obligations in the present, though. These decisions affect your future, as well.
Once your divorce is finalized, you’ll want to make sure you revoke your old will, and update your estate planning with a new one. While you’re at it, your attorney can also help you revoke any outdated powers of attorney that might be lingering in your ex spouse’s hands.
6. Modifications and Other Legal Support
While we’re on the topic of the future, let’s take a moment to appreciate how unpredictable life is. What was best for your family at the time of your divorce isn’t always what’s going to be best forever, and at some point, you may need your attorney to help you revise the terms of your order.
According to Texas law, divorce orders (including parenting plans) can be revised as soon as one year after finalization. Depending on your circumstances, some of the post-divorce services you may want to revisit with your attorney down the road could include:
- Alimony modification;
- Child support modification;
- Child custody and/or visitation modification; or,
- Parental relocation modification.
Whatever the reasons, an experienced, Neal Ashmore family attorney can help you meet all of life’s unpredictable twists with confidence.
Post-Divorce Service Attorneys in Texas
At Neal Ashmore, we understand that divorce is much more than just a case. It’s a transition. A significant life change—one that comes with ongoing needs that extend much further than the signature on your divorce order.
If you have more questions about the kinds of post-divorce services offered by the Neal Ashmore team, call us today at (972) 436-8000, or schedule a consultation online. Divorce isn’t just an end, it’s a beginning, too, and it’s one we want to help you start out right.