Things to Remember – Make Yourself a Checklist

Divorce is never easy, quick or painless, but you can make your divorce easier, less lengthy and alleviate as much pain as possible by making sure you avoid very common mistakes.

If you are contemplating divorce, make a checklist, write down all your bills, credit card debt, mortgage, utilities, and all those little things you pay for that you might otherwise forget.  You need to make sure you have an idea of what your finances are, where you can maybe trim your spending, and make sure those bills you shouldn’t forget, aren’t forgotten.

Especially if you are not the one responsible for paying the bills, it is important to make sure you understand what finances are all about.  It is a good idea to get a copy of your credit report.  You will know where you start with your rating, and if there are any adverse accounts on your report, something you might not be aware of, but should be.  You should request a copy of your credit report at least once a year anyway just to keep up on who has been looking at your credit (yes there are companies that look at your credit – did you fill an online form about renting or buying a home).

If you and your spouse are living in the same home for financial reasons, but are filing for divorce, you might want to make sure your mail is kept confidential.  You can go to your post office and apply for a P.O. Box and have your mail go to your P.O. Box. This way your spouse doesn’t have access to your mail – confidential or not.

Remember your profile on Facebook, or your Tweet on Twitter, or that picture you took with your friends out at the bar you put up on Instagram?  First things first, change passwords on email accounts, or other social media, but if you are in the thick of divorce, you might want to make sure you are not putting anything up online that could be used against you – should your spouse get nasty.

If you have children, you want to sit down with your spouse and set out parenting time, schedules that work best for both of you, holiday schedule. Sometimes you can get software that helps you to keep track of schedules, who picks up, when, you can track the schedule, print reports, and even put in notes, doctors appointments, issues with pick up times.  It is great when both parents are working together to co-parent, but if things don’t always go smoothly, it is best to have a way to track any bumps in the road with custody, visitation, and parenting time.

Do you have, or will you lose medical benefits once you divorce?  If you have medical issues or ongoing medical issues, you may want to take care of any of these issues prior to the divorce.  You want to start looking for your own medical health insurance and what options are available to you once you are divorced.  You can find out from your spouse, if you are covered under his or her medical insurance what the requirements are to stay on the policy, if you can, or when you are removed (date of divorce, or is there a specific time you can still be on the insurance).

So now you are almost divorced, the paperwork is before the judge and you are waiting for the judge to sign the final paperwork.  What next?  Well did you settle retirement funds? Do you need to transfer retirement funds?  Need to value your pension?  Now you know what your pension is worth but you have to figure out how to transfer part of your retirement to your spouse.  The Qualified Domestic Relations Order commonly know as a QDRO is the document that actually tells the plan administrator to transfer the funds from one person to the other.

Did you update your Will or change your beneficiary?  These are things you need to remember to do once the divorce is final (if not before).  If you have a Will, you should update it, if you don’t, now would be a good time to make a Will.  Do you have life insurance, retirement or investment accounts – more than likely you designated a beneficiary on those accounts, now would be a good time to update the beneficiary designation.

Sometimes divorce isn’t as nice as a couple would like it go be. Feelings get hurts, lamps get broken.  If there is a time when things get a little heated, make sure the lamp that Great Aunt Bessie bequeath to you doesn’t find itself in the midst of a heated argument flying across the room.  Even if there are no arguments, make sure you remove your personal items as soon as the divorce is final or you have moved out.  When people move on, sometimes things get left behind, and if you move out, your spouse decides to have a yard sale, Great Aunt Bessie’s lamp gets put out for sale.

There is nothing wrong with making checklists to keep your affairs in order.  Financial and asset checklists could be the difference between a very organized divorce, or a very disorganized divorce.

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