Divorce: A Legal/Financial Checklist

Reviewed Sep 19, 2016

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Summary

Go through this list thoroughly if you are divorcing.

The end of a marriage can bring pitfalls along with pain. Here are some questions to ask, during the divorce process and afterward, to help you protect yourself legally and financially.

Before you sign anything …

  • Do you have an experienced attorney?
  • Have you also consulted with a financial-planning professional?
  • Have you identified all marital property, including retirement plans?
  • Do you know the present value for each of these assets, after taxes? 
  • Have you determined your income needs?
  • Do you and your spouse share debts?
  • If so, will they be paid off before the divorce is final?
  • If the debts can’t be paid off now, are you protected if your spouse fails to make payments?
  • Do you have a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) to secure future retirement benefits?
  • Are alimony and other future payments to you (and/or your children) insured?
  • If these payments are backed by insurance on your spouse’s life, do you own the policy?
  • Do you understand all the documents you’re signing?
  • Have you asked if the settlement will keep you financially secure? Are you satisfied with the answer?  

Now that you’re single again …

  • Do you have all your important documents (birth certificate, Social Security card, deeds, etc.) safely filed and readily available?
  • If you were covered under your spouse’s health plan, have you extended coverage under COBRA?
  • Have you re-titled bank accounts, stocks and other property?
  • Are your will and other estate-planning documents up-to-date?
  • Have you checked your credit report and cleared up any errors?
  • Have you drawn up a new budget based only on your spending and your income?
  • Have you reassessed your life and disability insurance in light of your newly single status?
  • Have you set your own financial goals? Are you saving for them now?   

If you have other questions or concerns, your employee assistance program (EAP) may be able to help you. Bear in mind that divorce is a complex legal process requiring the services of an attorney.

By Tom Gray

Summary

Go through this list thoroughly if you are divorcing.

The end of a marriage can bring pitfalls along with pain. Here are some questions to ask, during the divorce process and afterward, to help you protect yourself legally and financially.

Before you sign anything …

  • Do you have an experienced attorney?
  • Have you also consulted with a financial-planning professional?
  • Have you identified all marital property, including retirement plans?
  • Do you know the present value for each of these assets, after taxes? 
  • Have you determined your income needs?
  • Do you and your spouse share debts?
  • If so, will they be paid off before the divorce is final?
  • If the debts can’t be paid off now, are you protected if your spouse fails to make payments?
  • Do you have a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) to secure future retirement benefits?
  • Are alimony and other future payments to you (and/or your children) insured?
  • If these payments are backed by insurance on your spouse’s life, do you own the policy?
  • Do you understand all the documents you’re signing?
  • Have you asked if the settlement will keep you financially secure? Are you satisfied with the answer?  

Now that you’re single again …

  • Do you have all your important documents (birth certificate, Social Security card, deeds, etc.) safely filed and readily available?
  • If you were covered under your spouse’s health plan, have you extended coverage under COBRA?
  • Have you re-titled bank accounts, stocks and other property?
  • Are your will and other estate-planning documents up-to-date?
  • Have you checked your credit report and cleared up any errors?
  • Have you drawn up a new budget based only on your spending and your income?
  • Have you reassessed your life and disability insurance in light of your newly single status?
  • Have you set your own financial goals? Are you saving for them now?   

If you have other questions or concerns, your employee assistance program (EAP) may be able to help you. Bear in mind that divorce is a complex legal process requiring the services of an attorney.

By Tom Gray

Summary

Go through this list thoroughly if you are divorcing.

The end of a marriage can bring pitfalls along with pain. Here are some questions to ask, during the divorce process and afterward, to help you protect yourself legally and financially.

Before you sign anything …

  • Do you have an experienced attorney?
  • Have you also consulted with a financial-planning professional?
  • Have you identified all marital property, including retirement plans?
  • Do you know the present value for each of these assets, after taxes? 
  • Have you determined your income needs?
  • Do you and your spouse share debts?
  • If so, will they be paid off before the divorce is final?
  • If the debts can’t be paid off now, are you protected if your spouse fails to make payments?
  • Do you have a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) to secure future retirement benefits?
  • Are alimony and other future payments to you (and/or your children) insured?
  • If these payments are backed by insurance on your spouse’s life, do you own the policy?
  • Do you understand all the documents you’re signing?
  • Have you asked if the settlement will keep you financially secure? Are you satisfied with the answer?  

Now that you’re single again …

  • Do you have all your important documents (birth certificate, Social Security card, deeds, etc.) safely filed and readily available?
  • If you were covered under your spouse’s health plan, have you extended coverage under COBRA?
  • Have you re-titled bank accounts, stocks and other property?
  • Are your will and other estate-planning documents up-to-date?
  • Have you checked your credit report and cleared up any errors?
  • Have you drawn up a new budget based only on your spending and your income?
  • Have you reassessed your life and disability insurance in light of your newly single status?
  • Have you set your own financial goals? Are you saving for them now?   

If you have other questions or concerns, your employee assistance program (EAP) may be able to help you. Bear in mind that divorce is a complex legal process requiring the services of an attorney.

By Tom Gray

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