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Michael A. Johnson
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Finalizing a divorce usually needs more than a court order

| Apr 16, 2019 | Divorce |

Those in Arizona going through a divorce may think the divorce decree is the final step in parting with their spouse. It is in a way because the marriage is dissolved with the decree, but other things must be dealt with after the divorce. Fortunately, many of these items are more of a housekeeping nature and not as emotionally taxing as the divorce process. They still need to be completed to avoid problems in the future, however.

Bank accounts and other financial accounts should be transferred per the divorce decree or settlement agreement. The ex-spouse should be removed from each account. Likewise, beneficiaries on life insurance and retirement benefits should be changed. A certified copy of the divorce decree may be needed as proof. For real estate, deeds should be executed and filed. The ex-spouse should sign the deed.

If retirement benefits are divided during the divorce, the division must be made through a qualified domestic relations order, or QDRO. A retirement plan administrator will not divide the benefits unless an approved QDRO is presented regardless of what the divorce decree states.

Other items to address include changing passwords on email, phones and social media accounts. New estate planning documents should be written to reflect the new marital status and to change beneficiaries. This includes all powers of attorney.

Many of these things can be discussed with a family law attorney prior to the final order. Some items, such as reverting to a maiden name, can be included in the divorce decree. When the property settlement agreement or decree is drawn up, a clause should be inserted requiring each party to cooperate in executing all documents necessary to transfer property, both real and personal. An experienced divorce attorney may help in determining what is needed and in securing the appropriate documents.

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