After the final decree, you can start to breathe a sigh of relief. The divorce is over, and the hard work has been done. However, there are still things you must do before you can start to celebrate and move on with your life post decree. We’ll be looking at the most important things you should do immediately following the final decree.
Review the Order for Legal Errors
Upon divorce, you need to be sure that everything in the order is complete and accurate. Clerical issues could occur that will need to be corrected. Some of the types of errors that could happen include incorrect numbers, not having a child or spousal support payment defined, or even misspellings. Vague expressions that could cause post decree misinterpretation should be corrected, as well.
While this will not typically be an issue, errors can and do happen occasionally. If this is the case, it’s natural to start panicking. If there is something in the final decree that is different from what you and your spouse agreed on or if it’s different from what the court ordered, you will want to get in touch with your attorney as soon as possible. These errors can be reported and corrected, thankfully, and it shouldn’t take too much time.
Clarify Ambiguous Ruling
Sometimes, the ruling in the final decree might seem ambiguous in one or more areas. A party can file a motion that requests that the court clarify a ruling if there is the possibility that it could be susceptible to more than one reasonable interpretation, or if it is otherwise confusing.
Although you might be happy that the divorce is over, you can’t simply let ambiguity be part of your decree. It has the potential to come back and haunt you later.
Check for Missing Orders that Need to Be Corrected
Other times, the error is that certain orders need to be corrected or added if they were missed. These orders could range from how the property is supposed to be divided to how parenting time will be split with your children, child support, and more. If there are any missing orders, they need to be added as soon as possible.
Determine Whether an Appeal Might Need to Be Pursued
Sometimes, the results of your divorce might seem unfair or inequitable based on the current law and what happens specifically with your case. Going through an appeals process might not sound fun since it means going through more proceedings. However, if you believe you were treated unfairly or that your spouse was not honest about certain facts, such as having hidden accounts, then an appeal may be a good idea to pursue post decree.
Of course, this doesn’t always mean that the appeals court will rule in your favor. However, if you don’t appeal and you should have, you will come to regret it later. You should speak with your attorney about the potential for appealing the outcome of your divorce.
Once you have reviewed the final decree and orders to ensure everything is correct, it then comes time to divide up all of the property according to the orders. You need to abide by the orders when doing this. Neither party can try to hide something that they want to keep. Since everything should be spelled out in the orders, this should be relatively fast and easy.
Refinance Real Estate or List It for Sale
In some cases, a person might have chosen to try to keep the family house in the divorce. Since it is likely still in the name of both parties, if you are going to keep the house, you have to refinance and have the house just in your name. This can sometimes be difficult if you don’t have the income on your own to handle the payments on the home. You will typically have to buy the other party out of their half of the house, or you could have offered them more property in the divorce to make up for that money.
Rather than keeping the home, many couples instead decided that they will list the house and sell it instead. They will then split any of the profit they make from the sale between them according to the orders.
You will also need to complete QRDOs, which stands for Qualified Domestic Relations Orders. These are judgments or court orders that the judge enters into the case. They are used as a means to divide pensions and retirement plans when going through a divorce.
They can grant one party the right to participate in the other party’s retirement or pension plan. Each QRDO will have two parties. There is the plan participant, who owns the plan, and the alternate payee, who is awarded part of the plan participant’s pension or retirement plan. They can be used to provide child support, spousal maintenance, and to divide community property post decree.
Update Your Estate Plan and Allocate Newly Separate Property
Now that you are no longer married, it is time that you changed and updated your estate plan if you haven’t already started to do so. You will now have new separate property from the divorce, and you will want to add that to your estate plan and allocate it properly.
For example, you might have had your spouse as a beneficiary of most or all of your belongings in the past. Now that you are divorced, you might want to change that and have it all allocated to your children, a charity, etc.
Celebrate Being Done
Even though there are quite a few things that you have to do post decree, your divorce is almost over. Once you have completed the items above, you can then start to move on with your life. At this point, it’s time to celebrate a job well done on your case. You’ll be happy to know that you are finally free and can start to move past at least the paperwork and drudgery of the divorce. Your healing might not be done yet, but now it can begin.