It is important to provide notice to the court, governmental agencies, your employer, and others of the changes that have taken place in your life as a result of the divorce whether it is a change in tax status, change of address, change in beneficiary designations, or a name change. It is also important that you organize your personal documents and make sure all transfers have taken place as required under the terms of your divorce decree. The consequences of not providing proper notice or failing to complete matters set forth in your divorce decree can have a significant negative impact on your future. If too much time has gone by the harm may be irreparable. Therefore, it is important to have a plan as you move toward the next chapter in your life.
Start by obtaining a certified copy of your divorce decree from your attorney. Depending on the number of transfers or the number of notices required in your case, you may want to obtain multiple certified copies of your divorce decree. In many cases it is less expensive and far easier to obtain certified copies of your divorce decree on the day your divorce is finalized as opposed to trying to obtain certified copies of your divorce decree at a later date.
Next, review your divorce decree carefully and make a list of all notices, transfers, and action items under the terms of the divorce decree. Identify the person responsible for each action item and provide a reasonable timeline for completion of each item.
Send timely notice of your tax status, your address, and name, if applicable as follows:
- Provide your employer with a completed Form W-4 for exemptions. The IRS Withholding Calculator at www.irs.gov can be used to determine what your withholding should be;
- If you have a new address, be sure to provide the Internal Revenue Service, court, child support office, your attorney, creditors, financial institutions, and your employer with your new address; and
- If you changed your name as part of your divorce, notify the Social Security Administration by submitting a Form SS-5 Application for a Social Security Card (www.ssa.gov). You should also notify your employer, financial institutions, creditors, and the department of motor vehicles of your name change.
Finally, create a file for each transfer required to take place under the terms of your divorce decree (i.e., transfer of house, motor vehicle, financial account, retirement, etc.). Keep copies of call logs, notes, communications, and other information relevant to each transfer in a separate file. Maintain the file until the transfer is complete. Depending on the circumstances, your accountant or attorney may suggest that you retain the files for an extended period of time.
Divorce brings many changes and challenges and it also provides a chance for a new beginning. Take control, get organized, and move confidently toward the future.