Ending your marriage often means significant changes in many areas of your life, including finances and living arrangements. And with children involved, the stakes are even higher. You may be wondering how you’ll move forward with the least amount of stress. Before you throw your hands up in frustration, remember that although things might be extremely tough right now, this too shall pass. Each divorce situation is unique, but following simple guidelines can alleviate some of the burdens after it’s final.
- Take your settlement agreement or final Court Order seriously. When your divorce is final, a judge will sign off on a final Court Order, sometimes called a Decree (either approving the settlement you reached with your spouse or the Order the Judge made after he or she heard your case). This Order is the document governing your rights at the divorce and setting out post-divorce details like parenting and custody issues, healthcare expenses, child support, financial and property divisions, and more. If you or your ex don’t stick to this Order, you can find yourself in hot water (including even being held in contempt of court). With emotions and stress levels running high, sometimes important to-dos may be missed. Avoid landing yourself in big trouble by writing down or otherwise tracking future to-dos with deadlines. For example, if you were required to refinance the mortgage on the house you got in the divorce, make sure you get that completed by the deadline in the Order. If you don’t, the house might have to be sold.
- Make adjustments the legal way. As we all know, life changes. Although decisions about property issues are generally final, issues relating to your children can normally be changed if the circumstances allow. It’s important to remember that any modifications for issues like custody, parenting time, and child support need to go through the proper court channels. While it sometimes feels more comfortable to make verbal promises or tweaks on the fly, it can be damaging in the long run. And the last thing you want to do is to get in trouble with the court or lose those special provisions you fought so hard to get.
- Think ahead about educational expenses. Even though your children may be young right now, you need to think about possible college expenses down the road. Waiting until the kids are already in college can be a costly mistake. There are strict laws about when you can ask your ex to help pay college tuition and expenses, and if the deadline is missed, it’s often too late to ask. Talk to your attorney to make sure you know your rights and options on paying for college long before any of the children are in college or 19 years of age, whichever comes first.
- Plan for future financial stability. Looking toward tomorrow may feel impossible right now, but some details are too important to put off. This especially holds true for estate planning. After a divorce, it’s likely you’ll want your legacy to look different. Now is the best time to update your will and estate plan. If you have not already done so, select new beneficiaries for pensions, life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and other accounts with beneficiary designations as long as it’s not prohibited in the Court’s Order.
- Document details. Sometimes exes can get along after a divorce and follow the rules of the Order without much strife. But other times, it’s not so simple. If you struggle with your ex (or think you might down the road), it’s critical to keep track of details and any incidents as they occur. This includes writing down what happened, documenting names of witnesses, saving emails, and archiving any text messages involved. Hopefully, the situation improves, but if you need to go back to court, this documentation will help you be better prepared.
- Getting remarried. Once you are considering marrying again, you should strongly consider a prenuptial agreement to protect your current and future assets.
Just because you are divorced does not mean you still won’t need some legal advice. At BB&C, we look out for women at every stage of the process. Each situation is unique and needs a personal touch. Reach out today to Kisti Good Risse at 765-742-9066.
The content of this blog is intended to be general and informational in nature. It is advertising material and is not intended to be, nor is it, legal advice to or for any particular person, case, or circumstance. Each situation is different, and you should consult an attorney if you have any questions about your situation.