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Post-Divorce Checklist to Help You Out

By Mary Salisbury January 10, 2024 Family

Your divorce is final! No doubt you feel like taking a break, but there is much more to do to separate your life from your ex’s.

Address Important Financial Matters First

There are several financial matters you need to settle.

Retirement Account

Was there a retirement account that was split in the divorce? If so, a document commonly called a QDRO must be prepared. Make sure any QDRO is prepared, signed by the judge, and sent to the plan administrator. If you are the one to be getting money from your ex-spouse’s employer plan, don’t rely on him or her to do this for you.

You are the one with the incentive and if this is not done, you could lose out if your spouse dies before the QDRO is in place. I have seen this matter put off and women lose out on retirement benefits they had counted on.

Will and Other Accounts

You need to update your will and change the beneficiary on your life insurance, investment accounts, workplace retirement plans, IRAs, and bank accounts, including the TOD or “Transfer on Death” designation on your bank accounts. Be sure the divorce documents don’t require you to keep your spouse as beneficiary before you make a change in beneficiary.

It’s very important to know that these beneficiary designations supersede your will so if you change your will only, but not these designations, the beneficiary designations will rule. The beneficiary on your 401(k) account cannot be changed to someone other than your spouse, without your spouse’s consent, before your divorce is final.

Home and Mortgage Settlement

You may need to sell your home or refinance your mortgage if your settlement agreement requires you to do so. Check your divorce papers for any deadlines. After you refinance, file a transfer of deed with the county. If your spouse is the one refinancing, ask for evidence that this has been done by the deadline.

Further information can be found here: DIVORCE AND THE MARITAL HOME: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW.

Changing Your Name Involves Many Steps

Do you want to change your name to your maiden or other prior name? If you elected to do so, then let everyone know. This is no small task!! Notify Social Security and the IRS first and make sure that is done before proceeding to the remainder.

You will need to change your name on your driver’s license, your passport, credit card accounts and bank accounts (after these accounts are split up), utilities, car insurance, homeowner’s insurance, umbrella insurance policies, and your mortgage and any loan. Don’t forget to tell your employer.

Changing your social media accounts will help friends and work-related contacts know you want to be called by your “new” old name.

Other Smart Actions to Take After Your Divorce

Now that your filing status is changing from “married” to “single” or “head of household,” you should review the withholding on your paycheck. You may need a CPA to help on this. This may be a good time to set up new relationships with a CPA and a financial advisor unless you are comfortable keeping the one you had.

Hopefully you did this during the course of your divorce but if not, you should create new passwords for your accounts. Remember your spouse knows your birthdate, social security number and your mother’s maiden name so you will need to be thorough.

Bank and Credit Card Accounts

Close any joint bank or credit card account unless there was a good reason you agreed to keep it open. If your spouse was given the task to take your name off any accounts, check with the bank to be sure you are not liable for any future debt. This is a very good time to pull your credit report to see what debt is in your name. You can get a free credit report at

Car Title

Was your car in your joint names? If so, you will need to change your car title to your name only.

Health Insurance

Health insurance is one of the most difficult aspects budget-wise when it comes to divorce. Ex-spouses are by law entitled to workplace provided health plan insurance for up to 36 months under COBRA, so be sure the employer knows you are divorced and that the proper notification is done. Don’t assume it will be affordable.

Divorce opens enrollment for entering a new health plan so shop around even if you are eligible for COBRA. If your health is very good, there are non-Obama care health plans out there that are very affordable with good coverage. Find an independent health insurance agent to help you.

Create a Budget

Your financial circumstances may have changed and now more than ever you need to keep on top of spending and saving in retirement.

Sound like a lot of work? It is!!! But use this as your checklist, don’t feel like you have to get it all done in a month and just keep plugging away. You will get it done!

Let’s Have a Conversation

Do you have advice for getting your name changed and known to the world? Did you put off getting this “checklist” done after your divorce and how did that impact you? Was it a relief to get it all done and how long did it take?

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Stephanie Bryant

I would absolutely love to change my name, but it my age and all the work that will have to go into it. I don’t have the energy but I did add my maiden name as a middle name to everything you don’t need to do that legally.

Robin Huff

I got divorced almost 4 years ago. I changed my name on all legal documents, but when I went to change my name on a hotel rewards program, they wanted a copy of my divorce decree. This should not be required in, I refused to provide that. There is more information in my divorce. Decree than a hotel needs. I would rather start a new account then provide my sensitive information to someone who doesn’t need it. Be careful of these situations. If they won’t take a drivers license or a Social Security card, reevaluate your relationship with that company.

Mary Salisbury

I agree that is overstepping your right to privacy. I didn’t think of changing your name in rewards programs. There is soooo much to do! You were very thorough.

The Author

Mary Salisbury is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® and Divorce Mediator and the founder of The Right Divorce Solution, LLC. Mary helps clients understand the long-term financial implications of property division, child support and alimony. Mary’s passion is to help couples and individuals have a financially smart and emotionally kinder divorce.

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