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The final steps of your divorce

No matter how amicably your divorce is progressing, you may still be feeling emotional and confused. In fact, you may be ready to move on as quickly as possible to put aside the mistakes and regrets of the past.

While you understand that the marriage is not legally dissolved until the judge signs the divorce decree, what you may not realize is that a divorce decree does not necessarily tie up all the loose ends. You may still have some steps to take to bring closure to the process.

The work isn't over

If you were married for any length of time, your divorce likely involved the division of assets, the separation of debts and other ways to disentangle your lives. However, just because a judge orders each of you to relinquish certain assets or your mediation results in an agreement, this does not mean those things automatically happen. You may have to take steps to legally transfer property to one another as well as separating other factors in your life from your spouse's life, for example:

  • If you are re-claiming your pre-marriage name, you will need to change it on your North Dakota driver's license, at the Social Security Administration and other important places.
  • If one of you is keeping the house and taking over the mortgage payments, you may have to quitclaim the deed, refinance the mortgage and take any other steps to remove the other spouse's claim on the property.
  • You will need to retitle any other assets, such as vehicles or boats, that have both names as owners.
  • You may have done this earlier in the divorce process, but it is critical to remove your ex's name from any joint financial accounts you acquired in the divorce and have your spouse do the same with your name on his or her accounts.
  • Review and revise your estate plan, beneficiaries on your retirement accounts and life insurance policies, and pay-on-death accounts.
  • Close any joint credit accounts and remove each other's names as authorized users on credit cards.
  • Learn the most efficient way to split retirement accounts and joint investments without risking tax ramifications.

You will also want to change your passwords on your computers, mobile devices, online accounts and any other digital source that your spouse may have had access to before your divorce. As pleasant as your breakup may be, you will want the added protection and privacy. You may find some of these tasks overwhelming and confusing, but you can reach out to your attorney for advice and guidance so you can move toward your post-divorce life with as little stress as possible.

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Commandments of Family Law

  1. The only truth your children need to know is that you both love them unconditionally, and that this isn't their fault.
  2. Take the high road — everyone wins when you do what's best for your kids.
  3. Negotiate but don't capitulate — if you are being pushed toward something detrimental for your children, stand your ground.
  4. You can only control yourself and how you respond. Don't engage.
  5. Do set up rules and responsibilities. Kids feel better when routine is continued.
  6. You are still their parent — don't be afraid to be one.
  7. Disneyland is in California, not in your home. Don't set up unreasonable expectations.
  8. It is not their job to take care of you. Repeat that to them. Often.
  9. Yelling is for sports — not court. Good lawyers strongly advocate without being disrespectful to opposing parties.
  10. Fair is a place you go to get cheese curds. Aside from that, nothing in life is fair.

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