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After Judgement

After you receive your Judgment of Dissolution back from the court:  After you receive your Judgment of Dissolution back from the court, signed by the judge, contact your spouse and make sure your spouse received a copy.  If they did not receive a copy, make a copy and send it to your spouse.

The first page of the Judgment of Dissolution of dissolution will tell you the date on which your marital status will be terminated and when you will be restored to the status of being a single person.  When this date arrives, you will be single.  There are no additional court forms that you need to file with the court.  You are just automatically single on that date.

There is no “Final Judgment of Dissolution”.  Many years ago, the court issued an Interlocutory Judgment and then a Final Judgment.  Today, we have just a single Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage.

When you receive your Judgment of Dissolution back from the court, take a look at page two of the FL-180 form, near the bottom.  There is a box entitled, “NOTICE”.  Read the paragraph in that box.  The paragraph is essentially a warning to people that have just completed a divorce.  You should take various actions.  For example, if you have life insurance, don’t forget to review the designated beneficiary of your life insurance (i.e., change the beneficiary from your former spouse to whomever you want to receive the life insurance proceeds).  If you fail to do this and you die, your ex-spouse may receive the life insurance proceeds.  The same idea applies to bank accounts with survivor benefits.  Some types of bank accounts have designated beneficiaries that will receive the funds upon your death.  IRA accounts are an example.  When you set up an IRA account, you name a beneficiary to receive the funds upon your death.  After you divorce, review your IRA accounts and change the beneficiary from your ex-spouse to whomever you want it to be.  Review all assets that you own which have a designated beneficiary, including retirement assets.

If you and your spouse hold title to any assets as joint tenants, change the title.  Joint tenancy means if one person dies, the survivor owns the asset.  Real estate is frequently held in joint tenancy.  Title to cars is frequently held in joint tenancy.  Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles and change the title on all of your vehicles.  You want your name removed from the title to the car awarded to your spouse.  Get your name off the title, otherwise, you may have some liability if your ex-spouse gets into a car accident or racks up parking tickets.  Have the title to the car(s) awarded to you changed so title is held in just your name.  Cancel all jointly held credit cards.  If you and your spouse had a living trust, terminate the trust.  Read the trust to see what steps you need to follow to terminate the trust.  It would be a good idea to contact an attorney and have a new Will and estate planning documents prepared.

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