Going through a divorce can be a tough, emotional journey. Once you have your Final Order in your divorce or dissolution it can feel like the weight of the world has lifted and that you can now focus on everything else. There are, however, some really important follow up steps that you need to ensure are ticked off your to-do list:
1. Obtain a Court Order in respect of your finances
The only way to ensure that any financial settlement agreed with your ex is legally binding is to ensure that this is encompassed into an Order of the Court. This does not need to involve lengthy legal battles and can be done by submitting agreed paperwork to the Court. The important thing is to ensure that your financial agreement, even if this is confirmation that you will each walk away with what is yours, is recorded in this way. Without this, there is nothing stopping either of you from seeking to make financial claims against each other in the future. No one wants to be living looking over their shoulder.
Once you have your Order it is then vital it is fully implemented. Property transfers are completed, bank accounts are closed, pension sharing Orders are fully implemented and maintenance Orders are paid on time each month. Otherwise you put yourself in contempt of Court and action could be taken against you. This could include the Court signing documents on your behalf where you refuse to do so (such as property transfers), recovering funds via bailiffs, or deducting money due to your former partner directly from your salary each month.
2. Review and potentially update your Will
Unlike marriage, a divorce does not automatically revoke a Will so it is vital to review your Will to ensure that it still reflects your wishes. If your former partner was named in your Will, once your Final Order of divorce or dissolution has been made they will be treated as if they had died before you and therefore, not receive any payment. You may also have named your former partner as your trustee or executor which may no longer be appropriate
3. Review and potentially update your Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)
LPAs only come into effect if you become unable to make decisions about your finances and welfare on your own. Typically, most people appoint their partners as their attorneys. If you divorce, then the appointment of your partner as your attorney will terminate on the dissolution of the marriage. The only exception to this is if your LPA specifies that your spouse’s appointment was not to be revoked on divorce, so your LPA’s should be reviewed and updated to reflect your new wishes.
4. Record and document any changes to your name
After a divorce or dissolution, many people take the view that they want to be called something other than their married name. Some choose to revert to their maiden name, while others change it to something entirely new. If you are going to change your name to something new then this will need to be recorded in a document known as a Change of Name Deed, so you can officially update your name on your passport, driving licence, bank accounts, etc.
5. Inform utility companies of your updated personal details
Utility companies, banks, insurance companies, doctors, dentists, employers, HMRC and council tax will need your updated personal details on their records. This is particularly important if you have moved house as part of your divorce or dissolution.
6. Updating the title deeds to your property
In line with your financial settlement, you will need to ensure that if one of you is retaining a property, that you update any changes to the title with the Land Registry.
7. Review and update your emergency contacts
It is likely that your former partner is your current emergency contact and following your divorce or dissolution that may no longer be appropriate. You should consider who you would like to act as your contact moving forward, speak to them to ensure they are happy to do this and understand what is involved and then update your contact with your GP.
8. Review and update the nomination of your Pensions & Death in Service
Your pension providers and employers should have historically asked you to nominate a beneficiary that you want to receive your pension and/or death in service benefit if you were to die. It is likely that you previously nominated your partner, which is now unlikely to be appropriate. It may be that this is something that has been provided for as part of the financial settlement with your former partner, in which case you need to ensure your nominations are updated in line with that. If this has not been addressed, you will need to consider who you would like to receive these benefits and update your nominations accordingly. This can often be done through your HR or pensions portal.
9. Review life and health insurance
It may be that as part of the financial settlement with your partner provision was made for how any life and/or health insurance should be managed. If not, you should review these and ensure that they are still at an appropriate level for you moving forward and provide you with the protection you require.
10. Inform children’s school & activity providers of new contact details
You should update your children’s school with any new contact information and ensure that they liaise with both you and your former partner about the children. The same is true for any extra-curricular activities that your children attend.
Moving on after a divorce is a process that can seem overwhelming at times, but tackling each of the above points will ensure that you move forward as well prepared and supported as you can be.
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