So, you’ve gone to mediation, signed the final divorce orders and the final divorce hearing is finished. You’re done, right? Not necessarily.
In almost all divorces, there are still a few pieces of paperwork that need to be done. It can be tempting to ignore pleas from your lawyer’s office to review and sign paperwork. After all, you are probably emotionally tired and ready to move on.
But, there are a few things that still must be done to protect you in the future. Your attorney cannot do them without you, and cannot force you to do them in a timely manner.
First of all you may need a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (called a “QDRO”). This document will split or assign retirement accounts between the two divorced parties, when needed. If so, you will need to act fast, and have it prepared and signed by the judge within 30 days to avoid additional costs and issues. So, as soon as you get the instructions from your lawyer on what to do to accomplish this, do it right away!
Secondly, if there is other property involved you may need additional documents such as deeds (usually called “Special Warranty Deeds”); powers of attorney to allow one ex-spouse to perform actions to complete the terms of the divorce or transfer motor vehicles or other property in the future; and paperwork for the sale of the home or other real property.
If you don’t do these things at all, or if you procrastinate, you may have problems in the future. Some of the problems that may occur are these:
- Liability from a vehicle when the vehicle was never properly transferred and something happens to it;
- Inability to sell or transfer a vehicle or piece of real estate, losing a buyer because you can’t provide them with what is needed on time;
- Foreclosure or repossession of a property that was awarded to your ex;
- Impact on your credit report from not completely and properly splitting and assigning the assets by having proper title;
- Increased attorney’s fees after your case file is closed due to lack of response or failure to accomplish the tasks while your initial divorce file is open;
- Increased attorney’s fees due to additional, time-consuming legal measures that have to be taken, especially in the case of a QDRO not completed in a timely manner or a real estate closing that has to be postponed;
- Problems with collecting retirement benefits.
I cannot emphasize this enough: finalizing paperwork after the divorce hearing is crucial.
So, however tempting it may be to do so, don’t shake your attorney’s hand and wave goodbye until the last document is signed. This will prevent a lot of hassles and additional costs in the future.