Tying Up Loose Ends After the Case is Over / by Cassandra Hearn

The end of the divorce or child custody case is the finish line every family law litigant hopes for.  The entry of a final decree can bring much-needed closure for all involved, allowing everyone to breathe easier and start moving forward to build a new future.  Although the main battle is behind you when the judgment is entered, there are still some loose ends that should attended to after the judgment is signed and the divorce is over.

The first place to look is to your divorce judgment.  Read the provisions carefully to determine if there are immediate actions you are required to take.  For example, are you required to sign over the title to a car?  Take your former spouse off of a credit card?  Prepare the marital home to be sold?  Whatever the judgment says, you need to take careful steps to make sure that the final stages of wrapping up your marriage are completed in a timely fashion.  Failure to abide by each and every requirement set by a divorce judgment can result in a contempt order later, which could mean monetary penalties or even jail time.

Next, you should carefully review all of your financial accounts.  If your spouse is still named on these accounts, it is now time to make sure that only one of you remains named, where possible.  In some situations, such as bank accounts, it may be simpler to close the old joint account and open a new one in your sole name.  If there are funds remaining in the joint account, be sure to divide those funds with your former spouse as per the divorce judgment.

Some orders may need to be prepared or sent to the proper agency.  In cases involving division of certain retirement accounts, it may be necessary to have your attorney prepare a Qualified Domestic Relations Order to submit to the financial institution controlling the account.  If you have been ordered to pay child or spousal support through wage assignment, you will need to have your lawyer prepare the appropriate court order and have it submitted to the court.  If you are ordered to pay by wage assignment, note that you are still responsible for paying your former spouse directly until the wage assignment order takes effect and you see the payments being deducted from your paycheck.

With regard to your children, it may be appropriate to provide a copy of the parenting plan to the children's school or daycare provider.  This is especially crucial where the other parent's visitation is curtailed or even supervised.  Providing a copy of the order to the school lets the school staff know if the other parent can pick up the child or have decision-making authority with respect to the child's educational issues

We have experience helping our clients bring their divorce or custody case to a complete end after the final decree is entered.  Call us today at (619) 800-0384 to talk about your case