Ten Must-Dos After Your Divorce

What are the first steps to take if you're thinking about divorce? Get answers at our free workshop December 3. RSVP 858-472-2022 San Diego

Divorce must-do list by Nancy Stassinopoulos, Certified Family Law Specialist
Nancy Stassinopoulos, APC

Many couples think their case is over on the date they sign their Marital Settlement San Diego divorce attorney Nancy StassinopoulosAgreement. This is a momentous occasion, especially in a collaborative case where the entire team usually meets in a conference room to review and sign the final documents. Emotions can run high, ranging from tears to smiles of happiness that a divorce has been concluded with dignity and respect.

But wait, before you break out the champagne to celebrate with your friends, there’s more to be done. Here are ten important reminders:

  • Finish your QDROs. If your Marital Settlement Agreement provides for retirement accounts and pension plans to be divided by a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, you should start working with the QDRO attorney or QDRO preparation service recommended by your collaborative attorney. In fact, most collaborative attorneys recommend that the couple start the QDRO drafting process before the Marital Settlement Agreement is signed, so that the QDROs can be signed and submitted to the court with the Judgment. Then, you need to make sure that the QDRO is served on the Plan.
  • Divide Your IRAs. The division of Individual Retirement Accounts is usually spelled out in the Marital Settlement Agreement, either as a formula (one-half to each spouse) or a dollar amount to one spouse. The division of IRAs does not require a QDRO. However, you need to contact the custodian of the IRA to request forms for the transfer of the funds, which can be rolled over into the transferee’s IRA without tax consequences. Your Collaborative Attorney or Financial Specialist will assist you if you need help.
  • Change your estate plan. You should make an appointment with an estate planning attorney. If you and your spouse had an estate plan, such as a family trust or wills, be aware that the divorce will automatically revoke any wills or trusts that were in existence on the date of the divorce. Thus, you will need to make a new estate plan. If you fail to do so, and then pass away, the laws of the State of California will decide how to distribute your assets. Also, probate fees for those who die “intestate” (without a will) are costly.   You can leave more money to your heirs with a good estate plan.
  • Check your life insurance. You should review and change the beneficiaries on your life insurance policies, to conform to the Marital Settlement Agreement. Remember, life insurance is not controlled by a will or trust. All beneficiary changes must be made in writing.
  • Change retirement plan beneficiaries. You will need to change the beneficiaries on your Individual Retirement Accounts, 401(k) Plans, and pension plans, to conform to the Marital Settlement Agreement. If these accounts will be divided between you and your spouse, you will need to get that done before you can change the beneficiaries. All beneficiary changes must be made in writing, usually on a form provided by the company.
  • Change your powers of attorney. During marriage, you might have given your spouse a financial power of attorney, or a power of attorney for health care. Be sure to revoke those documents and create new ones. Your estate planning attorney can assist you.
  • Close all joint credit card accounts. Remember, on a true joint credit account, both you and your spouse remain liable for any future charges, even after your divorce is final. If you are not sure whether an account is a true joint account, as opposed to one on which your spouse is an authorized user, call the card issuer and ask.
  • Close all joint bank and financial accounts. Most banks and financial institutions will require both account holders to authorize the account closure.
  • Copy your family photos and videos. Usually the Marital Settlement Agreement will provide that family photos and videos will be copied, with the expense to be shared. Be sure to make these arrangements as soon as possible.
  • Change the passwords on all accounts. If your spouse had access to your online financial or credit card accounts, you will have to change your passwords. Remember, your ex-spouse may be able to answer security questions such as your mother’s maiden name, and obtain access to your accounts after the divorce.

This list may seem overwhelming. It is a lot of work to address these important details. But think about how much work you have already done, to get to this point in the divorce process. Don’t let it all unravel because an important detail was not addressed.

Here’s a tip: Start with the tasks you can accomplish quickly. Tackle the tasks one at a time, check them off as you complete them, and move on to the next one. You will have all this work done in no time. Then you’ll be able to relax, knowing that your future, and your family’s future, will be secure.

 

Collaborative Divorce Featured on “The HR Insights Hour”

SD SHRMAttorney Frank Nageotte and Certified Financial Planner and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst Cinda Jones of the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego recently appeared on “The HR Insights Hour” with guest host Dr. Kathleen Bates. The discussion focused on the hidden costs and risks associated with employees going through divorce, and what organizations can do to mitigate the impact on the individual as well as the workplace.

“The HR Insights Hour” is a monthly radio show produced by the San Diego Chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Employee work performance suffers due to the stress and distractions of divorce. Human resources professionals can be tremendous allies in helping people find alternatives to time consuming and stressful litigation by informing them about options including Collaborative Divorce.

Listen to the program online here.

The Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego thanks San Diego SHRM for the opportunity to help education HR professionals about tools to help their employees achieve a healthy, respectful divorce.

In Life and Divorce, The Greatest Rewards Come From the Toughest Challenges

Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego with divorce solutions. Call 858-472-4022

by Tina Mears, LMF
Collaborative Divorce Coach

Change can bring many wonderful gifts, but it can also be very intimidating. New ways of tina-mears-photothinking and behaving to achieve a goal can be difficult, mostly because for a lot of us, we want to do what we’ve always done.   We think we’re right or the stress of life persuades us to not put in the effort. It’s natural to say, “I already have too much on my plate and I just want to do what I’ve always done because it’s easier!”

Let me offer two strong benefits to going through any transformative process, such as divorce. First is the outcome.   We reach our goals by identifying the right steps and putting in the work. By taking the route of Collaborative Divorce, you are offered the opportunity to reach an agreement that best meets the needs of everyone. Litigation is not an option and the well-being of the entire family, especially the children, is preserved.

Second and most importantly, is what you learn along the way. When we only focus on the end-goal we miss the many parts of ourselves that develop and strengthen as we go. We can all probably come up with examples of how we’ve gained insight and wisdom because of a difficult situation. The Collaborative Divorce process offers the same benefit because it challenges you to be your best at what might be the most difficult time of your life. It’s when we step up to the challenge and commit to the process do we build on how we cope with life, and as a result, other aspects of our lives become less complicated.

Finally, when we as adults find ways to make life easier, we make our children’s lives easier. When we learn how to be patient and problem solve, we can teach them to do the same. If we aren’t teaching our children how to be flexible, respectful and self-controlled, who will?

To collaborate with someone asks you to first have an open mind and an open heart. Compromise is possible when we practice patience, knowledge and endurance. The Collaborative Divorce process will challenge you to summon your best self. But remember, the most difficult challenges will bring the greatest rewards.