Finally, you have received a copy of your Decree of Dissolution of Marriage. After the celebration and/or tears have stopped, now what do you do? While the process of actually getting divorced is an event unto itself, the steps you take after the divorce to protect yourself can be just as important.  Here are just a few suggested steps:

a. Review your Decree Again. While you have probably already reviewed your documents multiple times, it is important to familiarize yourself again with all of the terms and provisions. Fully understanding your Court Orders is obviously very important so that you understand your legal rights and/or your legal obligations. Certainly, if you have any questions about any terms of your Orders you should ask your attorney.

b. Review and Change Beneficiary Designations as Permitted. You should review all insurance policies, pension and retirement plans, and so forth and make sure that you have removed your former spouse as a beneficiary of any such policies or pension and retirement plans in accordance with the terms of your Decree. Failure to remove your former spouse’s name from any insurance policy or pension or retirement plan awarded to you may mean that your former spouse still retains an interest in them irrespective of the express terms of your Decree. You should timely consult with your insurance agent and/or the plan administrator for your group life insurance and pension or retirement plan in order to effectuate any necessary changes.

c. Health Insurance. If you were covered under a policy of health insurance held by your now former spouse, you need to immediately make arrangements to secure a new policy of health insurance. If COBRA benefits are available to you and you wish to utilize these benefits, you must elect the coverage within 60 days of the entry of the Decree of Dissolution. Therefore, it is important for you to timely contact the benefits administrator to elect your benefits.

d. Estate Planning Changes. Now that you are divorced, it is a good time to either review your existing estate planning documents or create new estate planning documents. These may include, Powers of Attorney (for financial matters healthcare or otherwise), Wills and Trust. You should consult with a qualified estate planning attorney to discuss these issues.

About the Author:

Dana Levy (Member, Phoenix) is a certified family law specialist by the State Bar of Arizona. Her practice is concentrated in family law, including dissolution, post-dissolution, paternity, child custody and child support matters. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Please contact Ms. Levy in our Phoenix office at 602-285-5082 and visit her bio here.