You should receive a Certified Copy of the Judgment of Divorce (JOD) from your attorney. If not, you can go down to the court to obtain one. (Make sure to take ID). The JOD is an enforceable document. In an uncontested divorce, the terms of the settlement are incorporated into the Judgment. In other words, make sure you are a person of your word and do the things that the settlement agreement says you will do — because the court is going to hold you to it.
Protect this document. Your JOD is an important legal paper! When you are not using it, put it in a safe deposit box or another safe place. You will need the certified copy of the JOD in order to change your last name, if you are reverting to a prior surname. Make sure that the JOD explicitly says what your new last name will be. Then take it to:
- Social Security
- Motor Vehicles
- The passport office
Once you change these three things, it should be fairly easy to change your name on other documents like library cards. Your JOD will also be required for:
- Dividing up joint bank or brokerage accounts
- Opening up bank and/or brokerage accounts in your name only
- Making sure a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is being filed if needed for a transfer from a pension or retirement plan
- Taking your name – or making sure your spouse removes your name — from any other loans, liens, debts, etc.
- Making sure you are each transferring all property in a timely manner as required by the JOD or the Settlement Agreement
- Changing the title and registration for your automobile (Don’t forget to tell your auto insurer)
- Making sure your (or your ex’s) name is taken off of the title to the house and the mortgage, if applicable
- If you are going to continue to own the house jointly and you purchased it as a married couple, you may need to retitle the deed to reflect your new status as divorced. Check with a real estate attorney.
- Updating your will, health care proxy and power of attorney: This update not only includes who will receive your property, but who will make decisions on your behalf.
- Changing your beneficiaries on the following types of accounts to comply with the Judgment:
- Retirement accounts – IRAs, 401(k) accounts, pensions, 403(b) accounts, annuities, etc.
- Brokerage accounts – some require beneficiaries, some do not
- Obtaining life insurance or changing your beneficiaries as required by the agreement
- If your spouse was on your health insurance, letting your insurer know that you are no longer married
- Signing up for another health insurance plan if you were on your spouse’s health insurance
- Updating your homeowner’s or rental insurance policy
That may sound like a lot to do, but the most important thing to remember is the welfare of your children, which includes the welfare of your ex. Always pay child and spousal support as agreed — and keep to the parenting schedule!
Joy S. Rosenthal, Esq.
Rosenthal Law & Mediation
225 Broadway, Suite 2605
New York, New York 10007
Phone : 212.532.4704