What Happens After My Divorce is Finalized?

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Posted in On August 2, 2015

Indianapolis Divorce Attorney Blog: My Divorce is Finalized, What Happens Next?

In most cases, once your divorce is finalized, there are still several loose ends to tie up.  Whether you and your ex-spouse reached an agreement or you had a judge decide your case, divorce decrees often times impose obligations upon one or both parties that have to be satisfied on a post-divorce basis. If a party fails to satisfy one of those obligations, the other party may take legal action to enforce the obligation through various remedies, including a contempt citation, an injunction, a temporary restraining order, and garnishment proceedings.  If such an action is taken against you, you put yourself at risk for various court-ordered sanctions and may also be ordered to pay the other party’s attorney fees.  Some obligations are case specific and so you should go over your Divorce Decree with your attorney to make sure you are complying with it in full.  Additionally, there are various estate planning matters you need to address after a divorce to safeguard your assets and your children.
Child-Related Obligations
When there are minor children involved in a divorce, one parent will most likely be ordered to pay the custodial parent child support.  Nearly all courts now require that child support be paid through the Indiana State Central Collection Unit (INSCCU), which is the state’s child support processing organization.  If you are the non-custodial parent and ordered to pay support, you will have to open a child support account with the child support clerk in the county where you had your divorce.  Your attorney will be able to do this for you or, if you don’t have an attorney, you can go to the child support clerk in the appropriate county and ask them for instructions on opening the account.  Once the account is opened, you will be given an ISETS number, which is unique to your case and is used to track your child support payment history.
If you are an employee of a company, then typically you will be ordered to pay your support through an Income Withholding Order.  This is where your employer will deduct your child support obligation directly from your paycheck and pay that amount directly to the INSCCU.  Once you get an ISETS number, you will need to submit an Income Withholding Order to your court for the judge’s approval and the Order will be mailed to your employer for processing.  You can also pay by check, money order or cash, but if you don’t have an employment position where you receive a paycheck, it may be a good idea to contact the child support clerk for instructions on setting up an automatic withdrawal so that your support is timely paid.  It is important for you to stay current on your support obligation as there are several consequences that can result from failing to pay support, including sanctions, attorney fees, interception of your tax returns, having your license or passport suspended, and in some cases, jail time.
If you and your ex-spouse are ordered to pay percentages of other child-related expenses, including extracurricular activities, school expenses, and uninsured medical expenses, make sure to provide your ex-spouse with a copy of the receipt, bill or invoice after incurring such an expense so he/she can calculate his/her obligation and reimburse you.  If you provide proof of such an expense to your ex-spouse and he/she refuses to pay, you may need to take legal action to obtain reimbursement.
If you are the custodial parent and the non-custodial parent was awarded to claim a child as a dependent on his/her tax returns, you will need to fill out and sign an IRS Form 8332, called the Release of Claim to Exemption for Child by Custodial Parent, which gives the non-custodial parent the right to claim the child.
Restoration of Maiden Name
If your maiden name was restored in the Divorce Decree, your last name has already legally been changed.  However, once your divorce is finalized, contact the clerk of the court in which you got your divorce for instructions and costs for obtaining a certified copy of your Divorce Decree.  This document will be needed to change your name with the Social Security Administration, the BMV, and sometimes with your bank and other financial institutions.
Transferring Assets
If your divorce involved the division of assets and debts of the marriage, many times various assets will have to be transferred to the other party.  If you were awarded a piece of real estate titled in your ex-spouse’s name jointly or individually, your ex-spouse will have to prepare and execute a quitclaim deed transferring the property into your individual name and you and your ex-spouse will have to fill out and sign a Sales Disclosure Form.  Once these documents have been finalized, you will have to file them in the county Recorder’s Office in the county where the piece of real estate is located.  If you were ordered to refinance the piece of real estate to put the mortgage into your individual name, you will need a copy of the recorded Quitclaim Deed to provide to the mortgage company.
For cars and other automobiles in your ex-spouse’s name, the title will have to be signed over to you and it will have to be filed with the BMV. Contact your local BMV to learn what additional documents are required when applying for title.
As to jointly named bank and other financial accounts, contact the financial institution for directions and forms for removing the appropriate party’s name from the account.
If a retirement account, such as a 401k, IRA, Roth IRA, or pension, was ordered to be divided, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) will need to be prepared and filed with the court in most circumstances.  Once a judge approves the QDRO, it will be sent for processing with the financial institution that administers the retirement account.  A QDRO allows the account to be divided and transferred into the other party’s name without either party incurring any taxes or penalties, which wouldn’t be the case if you simply withdrew money from the account prior to reaching the age of retirement.  There are some retirement accounts, such as the Public Employees’ Retirement Fund and the Teachers’ Retirement Fund, that cannot legally be divided by a QDRO and so often times the divided portion will need to be paid directly to the ex-spouse upon receiving the monthly payments.  In such a case, setting up a direct deposit with your bank may help you pay timely and consistently to avoid any potential legal issues.
In some cases, a party is ordered to pay the other party cash payments to offset the asset and debt division.  When your divorce is finalized, make sure you calendar all of the various deadlines by which you have to pay such amounts to your ex-spouse to ensure that you are complying with the terms of the Divorce Decree.
Estate Planning
There are many estate planning matters that will likely arise as the result of a divorce.  If you have retirement accounts, investment accounts, or life insurance policies, you may need to change the beneficiaries of those accounts and policies if your ex-spouse is currently the beneficiary and you don’t want him/her to get that money if you were to pass.  Similarly, you will want to update your Will so that you can change the beneficiaries, funeral arrangements, and personal representatives in accordance with your wishes.  You will also want to revoke and amend any powers of attorney or healthcare directives where your ex-spouse is named as the agent.
If, after your divorce, you would want all or part of your estate to pass to your children, you may want to consider setting up a trust.  If your children are still minors upon your passing, a trustee will have to be named to hold and administer the funds for the benefit of the children until they are adults.  There are several benefits of setting up a trust for your children.  First, you can name the trustee of your choosing.  If you don’t have a trust, a court or your personal representative may be forced to decide who the trustee will be and so by making the choice yourself, you can be rest assured that the person you trust the most will handle the funds for the benefit of your children.  Next, a trust can be used to direct the trustee to administer the funds as you feel are in the best interests of your children.  For example, you can direct the funds to be used for medical purposes, educational purposes, or for whatever other purpose you feel is appropriate for your child.  Additionally, you can put limitations on when and how the children will receive the funds and can set certain criteria the children will have to meet in order to be eligible to receive such funds.  As trusts need to be tailored on a case-by-case basis, consult with a local attorney to make sure you set up the appropriate trust for your circumstances.
If you have any post-divorce issues or need to update your will and other estate planning documents, the attorneys at Banks & Brower, LLC can help you.  Give us a call at (317) 870-0019, or email us at info@banksbrower.com.  We are available to take your call 24/7/365.