Post Divorce Paper Trail

Thursday, May 15, 2014 | 1:19 am

Divorce can be a long, arduous experience. Once the divorce papers are final, we know the last thing you want to do is more paper work. But getting your post-divorce paper trail organized now will ensure that your documents are in order and have you well prepared for life’s changes down the road.

During the divorce process, ATROs (Automatic Temporary Restraining Order) go into effect, notifying both parties that they are restricted from making any changes to accounts, including removing a spouse from insurance plans, financial accounts or as a beneficiary of investments. “By the conclusion of the divorce, a judgment will be drafted, signed by all parties and councils, and entered with the court,” said Nitasha Khanna, family law attorney with the Law Offices of Donald P. Schweitzer. “One the judgment is entered, both parties should get their post-divorce financial and legal documents organized, including any financial accounts, documents related to real property, as well as child custody agreements.”

Let’s start with the basics. The two most common questions among divorcees are “What do I need to do to formally change my status from married to single?” and “Do I have to change my last name back to my former?” According to Khanna, a marital status change is done as part of the dissolution proceeding and a name change can be part of this process. Some divorced women wish to continue to share their married last name with their children, while others prefer to go back to their maiden name. If a woman decides to keep her married name at the time of divorce, but changes her mind at a later date, she can petition for a legal name change through her local court.

Assuming you have children, your next, if not first move should be providing your child’s school or daycare with a copy of the child custody agreement or judgment. “This is particularly important if you have sole or joint custody, as it informs your child’s caregiver or school administration of your child’s custodial schedule,” said Khanna. “Worst case scenario, let’s say your ex-spouse tries to pick up your child early from school but he or she does not have custody rights. A copy of the child custody agreement empowers your school or caregiver with a legal document that allows them to keep the child under their care, while alerting you of the situation.”

Next you’ll want to revisit any legal documents that include both you and your former spouse’s name on it to ensure the asset is accurately vested post dissolution.

“Once a divorce is finalized, parties generally feel a sense of relief and may get sidetracked, often neglecting to update documents such as a deed,” said Khanna. “If real property is awarded to one party, then the other party would need to execute a Quitclaim Deed, which would transfer the other party’s interest in the real property to the spouse it was awarded to.”

Along the same lines, Khanna also advises contacting an estate planning attorney to revise or create your trust, including a will and advanced directives; as well as a financial advisor who can assist with updating investment plans and accounts.

The Law Offices of Donald P. Schweitzer is located at 201 South Lake Ave. For more information, call (626) 683-8113 or visit http://www.pasadenalawoffice.com.

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