Chapter 20

What Happens After the Divorce?

You have finally reached the end of the divorce journey. You may be sad about the end of your marriage, you may be hopeful about the future ahead of you, and you may be worried about different aspects of your new life. These feelings are normal.

It is also normal for you to be unsure about how you take the final actions to complete property transfers, name-change details, and other postdivorce tasks.

Whatever items are on your to-do list, it is best to map out your action plan. Clarify which items are your responsibility and which items will be handled by your attorney.

20.1 What Tasks Do I Have to Deal With Following the Entry of My Divorce Order?

Some of the tasks you may need to handle include the following:

  • Read and comply with the terms of your settlement agreement if your case was settled (for example, retitle cars and real estate).
  • Read and comply with the terms of your divorce order (an example would be to transfer interests in retirement accounts).
  • Obtain COBRA coverage or new health insurance coverage if you were covered on your spouse’s plan
  • Clarify with your attorney which postdivorce tasks you will each be responsible for.
  • Update your estate-planning documents.
  • Update your beneficiary information for your life insurance policies and your retirement accounts.

20.2 What Do I Need to Do When the Amount of Child Support Changes Based on One of My Children Turning Eighteen?

Child support automatically ends when your youngest child turns eighteen and graduates from high school. If you have more than one child, child support does not automatically change when the older children turn eighteen and graduate from high school. In that situation the parents should cooperate in recalculating child support based upon the Virginia guidelines. Have your attorney help, if needed. To be legally enforceable, the new amount needs to be set forth in a new court order.

20.3 What Notices Do I Have to Give to the Court Following My Divorce?

Read your court order(s) carefully. Any notice requirements will be set forth in those orders. The most common notice requirement is to give the other party and the court at least thirty day’s notice before a move if you have minor children. There may be other notice requirements if there are support obligations.

20.4 My Order Includes a Provision That My Former Spouse and I Both Pay a Portion of Uninsured Medical Expenses Incurred for the Minor Children. How Do I Communicate This Information, and When Do I Get Reimbursed?

Be sure to provide your former spouse with the required documentation as set forth in your agreement or order. Be sure to keep a copy of all documents you send to the other parent. Reimbursement of uninsured medical expenses is an issue frequently disputed in support determination and contempt of court proceedings. For this reason, maintain complete records regarding these expenses, such as:

A copy of all billing statements from the service providers with your notations regarding payments made including the date, amount, and check number

A copy of all insurance benefits statements

Monthly or annual printouts of all the charges and payments for prescription drugs from your pharmacy

A record of sums paid by the other parent, either directly to care providers or reimbursements paid to you

A copy of correspondence between you and the other parent regarding these expenses

You may want to consider creating a work sheet to help you track expenses and payments. In the event of a future dispute you will then have all of the documentation needed for your attorney to present your case or to defend a claim against you.

20.5 What if My Former Spouse and I Have a Disagreement About Our Custody and Visitation Arrangements After the Divorce Order Is Entered?

Try to work together in a cooperative manner regarding your child. Make every effort to focus on your child’s best interests, and avoid a competitive, win-lose relationship with the other parent. If you and the other parent can’t resolve the issue, consider involving a child therapist to obtain unbiased input. Involve your attorney, if necessary. Involve the judge as a last resort.

20.6 How Do I Make My Court-Ordered Payments That Are Not Related to Child Support or Spousal Support?

If not otherwise specified, write and send a check to your former spouse with an explanatory note on the memo line. Follow the requirements of your agreement or court order.

20.7 My Former Spouse Has Not Paid Me the Property Settlement as Ordered in the Divorce Order. What Can I Do?

In the event that your former spouse does not make court-ordered payments, enforcement mechanisms are available such as contempt of court actions or garnishment. If payment becomes an issue, contact your attorney to discuss your enforcement options.

20.8 I Was Told by My Bank That I Need a Certified Copy of My Divorce Order. How Do I Obtain One?

Your divorce order remains permanently on file with the circuit court where your divorce took place. You can obtain a certified copy from the clerk’s office for a nominal fee, or your attorney can handle this task for you.

20.9 Is There Anything Else I Should Be Doing After My Divorce?

The following postdivorce checklist covers many actions that may be necessary:


____ Confirm necessary real estate deeds have been signed and recorded in the appropriate circuit court.

____ Refinance mortgages as required by your agreement or court order.

____ Complete the exchange of personal property.

____ Transfer the title for vehicles.

____ Transfer or close bank accounts and safe deposit boxes.

____ Transfer investment accounts, stocks, and bonds.

____ Review beneficiary designations on retirement and financial accounts for any needed changes.

Property Settlement

____ Comply with property settlement obligations in a timely manner.


____ Review life insurance beneficiary designation for any needed changes.

____ Obtain COBRA or other needed health insurance.

____ Notify employer of divorce.

____ Make sure your vehicle is insured in your name.

Debts and Liabilities

____ Cancel joint accounts or charge cards, or remove name of former spouse.


____ If you are the noncustodial parent, notify child’s school of your contact information and your desire to be notified of events and to receive duplicate copy of report cards.

Child Support and Spousal Support

____ If support is paid directly and not by wage withholding, set up automatic transfers or otherwise arrange for timely payments.

Uninsured Medical Expenses

____ Set up a tracking and filing system to keep full and complete records regarding these financial matters.

Tax Matters

____ Notify your employer of the change in your exemption status (complete a new W-4).

____ If necessary, complete IRS Form 8822 for change of address.

____ Arrange to make quarterly payments for taxes due on spousal support.

____ Refer to IRS Publication 504, Divorced or Separated Individuals for other questions.

Attorney Fees

____ Contact the firm’s account manager to make payment arrangements for any fees owed to the firm.

____ If your former spouse was ordered to pay a portion of your attorney fees, note that you remain responsible for the payment of your attorney fees, including any applicable interest, until the account is paid.

____ If you have been ordered to pay fees to your former spouse’s attorney, make payment pursuant to the divorce order.

Name Change

If your name changed:

____ Contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) to complete an Application for Social Security Card (Form SS-5). The SSA will notify the IRS of your name change when your new Social Security card is issued.

____ Notify the division of motor vehicles and your employer regarding your new name.

Estate Planning

____ Review your will, power of attorney, and advance medical directive for any needed changes.

____ Schedule an appointment with your attorney to update or prepare your will, power of attorney, advanced medical directive, and other important estate-planning documents.

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