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Steps you may still need to take after your divorce is final

On behalf of Dolan + Zimmerman LLP March 30, 2020

In Colorado, the final step in the divorce process is for a judge to issue a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage, which people commonly call a divorce decree.

This decree is a court order, which means that both parties are required to comply its provisions. This means making any property transfers that may be called for, setting up your parenting schedule and following through on any other provisions, such as an a provision for a party to obtain life insurance.

There may be other steps that must be taken in addition to those outlined in the decree. Don’t wait to handle these common post-divorce issues:

Presenting your QDRO to your retirement plans. If you divided retirement plans in your divorce, you probably received an order called a “qualified domestic relations order” or QDRO. This is what your retirement plan needs in order to divide the assets without incurring an early withdrawal penalty.

Changing your will and estate plan. If you have an existing estate plan, it may also need to be changed. You may need to change the beneficiary to your children or other family members. You should also change your power of attorney and proxy health care decision maker so your former spouse is no longer the person authorized to make decisions on your behalf if you should be unable to.

Updating your beneficiary designations. Your former spouse may be the beneficiary for your 401(k), 403(b), or IRA, along with your life insurance and any brokerage accounts. These beneficiary designations will also likely need to be changed.

Changing your name. If you changed your name within the divorce, you will need to change your name with the DMV and other local and federal agencies.  You will then begin working on name changes at private institutions, including financial institutions.

Separating your joint accounts. This should be covered in your divorce decree, which should require the immediately closing of any joint checking or credit accounts.  You should also remove your former spouse as an authorized signatory on any credit cards.

Change the house title and mortgage paperwork.  Typically the transfer of the mortgage and house title is included in the divorce decree, with timelines provided in order to refinance and transfer the title.