You Just Received Notice That your Divorce is Final – Now What?

The goal in a divorce case is, obviously, to get divorced. But, once the final judgment of dissolution is entered, property is divided, support is determined and issues surrounding custody and visitation are resolved, its important to note that there may still be additional things that you need and/or should do to protect yourself and your assets. What follows is a sort of “post-judgment checklist” that should be considered by any party to a divorce, once the actual divorce is finalized.

Create a New Will
One of the more important items for you to consider is the drafting of a new will. California Probate Code 6122 states that the dissolution of your marriage revoked any disposition of property made by you to your former spouse. The state reacts in the matter as if your former spouse had predeceased you. The dissolution of your marriage also revoked any provisions you made in your former will conferring powers of appointment on your former spouse, and it revoked any provision nominating him/her as executor, trustee, conservator or guardian. Therefore, you likely need to make other plans for the disposition of your property and appoint another executor if you had named your former spouse as executor in your previous will. Also, if there was a trust or guardianship for any minor children, you need to consider the fact that, although your former spouse would be the guardian of the person of your minor child/children, you have the option of naming another person or institution as guardian or trustee of the estate of the child/children.

Change Beneficiaries
You should consider changing the beneficiaries of any life insurance policies or employee benefits that belong to you if in the past your former spouse was named beneficiary. The insurance carrier usually has special forms for you to fill out. If you do not proactively take this step and you predecease your former spouse, any life insurance proceeds could still be paid to your former spouse despite the divorce. This is because the named beneficiaries control.

Change Account Titles
Any stocks, bonds, bank accounts, certificates of deposit, charge accounts, motor vehicles registrations or other assets which are held in joint title should have the title changed into your name alone, unless of course your judgment states otherwise. You should also make sure that your name is no longer on the title of any vehicles, etc. which are in your spouse’s possession (if any).

Tax Considerations
You should notify the Franchise Tax Board and IRS of your dissolution and any changes of address so that if there is a future assessment of delinquency for a year in which you and your former spouse filed joint returns, the taxing authorities will send a duplicate notice to you as well as to your former spouse. Otherwise, the address shown on the most recently filed return will be the address use by the taxing authority. Further, under Internal Revenue Code Section 1529(e), the custodial parent, as a result of divorce, is generally entitled to take the dependency exemptions for the child, unless otherwise ordered. This applies as long as the parent provides more than half the child’s support and the child lives with either or both parents for more than six months each year. However, the non-custodial parent may claim a child if the custodial parent agrees not to claim that same child as a dependent for a particular year, and signs Form 8332, Release of Claim to Expiation for Child of Divorced or Separated Parents. The non-custodial parent then attaches the signed form to his or her tax return.

Compliance With Court Orders
It is also very important to carefully review your divorce judgment to make sure you have done all the items you are required to do under the judgment and also to be sure that all items that your spouse is required to do have been taken care of. If your spouse fails to comply with the terms of the divorce judgment, there are steps that can be taken to force compliance.

Change Electronic Passwords
This would include email account passwords, online banking, social media and other online account passwords.

Of course, what you may need to do following your divorce will vary based on the circumstances of your particular case. At Argyris Mah, LLP, in addition to handling the entirety of your Santa Clara County divorce case, we can help you tie up any lose ends once your divorce is finalized. Contact our office for a free initial consultation at (408) 564-5674 or email us at info@argyrismah.com.

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