Finishing Your Divorce -You Can See the Finish Line!

After a hearing or mediation, my clients appear to experience some form of relief.  Relief because everything is finished either by agreement or by decision of the Judge or maybe because they got what they wanted and sometimes the relief isn’t because they got what they wanted but because what they feared most didn’t happen.  And, I’m sure there is relief that I don’t even know how to describe because of the deepness of the emotions clients feel.

For the lawyers, there is still work to be done before we get to say it is finished.  I always feel like it is the beginning of the end of the case when we reach an agreement or have the final hearing but it’s not finished yet.  Divorces are the legal untangling of two lives and knowing how it is going to be done is the first part of ‘getting it done’.   Then, the finishing orders and documents are the final part.

1 – Divorce Decree:  A divorce decree is the order that ends the marriage and grants the divorce.  It is the same whether the divorced was agreed or heard and decided by a judge.  The divorce decree is the document that sets out all of the terms of the divorce including these basics: the parenting or possession schedule, child support, health insurance, the rights and duties of the parents, the division of property and assets and the responsibilities for the debt.  It is important that everything is included and accurate.

2- Dividing Property: The property and assets of the marriage will be divided and awarded to someone.  Accounts with financial institutions may need a special type of order or a certified copy of the divorce decree.  Retirement accounts including 401ks will need a special type of order.  The financial professionals know what their institutions need and the lawyers prepare according to account and institution to get the accounts divided accurately.

3 – Child Support: In Texas, most child support is paid to the other parent through the Attorney General’s office.  Attorneys prepare an order that goes to the employer of the parent paying child support to tell the employer how much child support to withhold each pay period and send to the Office of the Attorney General on behalf of that parent.

4- Automobiles: Automobile ownership is the title.  However, if there is still a debt being paid on a motor vehicle the divorcing people may not have the title.  There is a document that can be prepared to give the other person power to control that car – motor vehicle power of attorney.

5- Name Change:  In a divorce, a party can change their names under the right circumstances.  If that is the case, it will be included in the divorce decree.  To finish it up, contact Social Security and the State of Texas for the process of changing your name.

6- Real Property: In Texas, real property will usually require additional documents to be filed with the County Clerk’s office to show ownership of the property after the divorce.  The financing issues for the real property may also need additional documents and/or work depending on what was ordered by the judge or the parties agreed to for the resolution of any of those issues.  The specifics of each case are critical for this issue.  Talk to your lawyer to make sure you understand what your lawyer is doing and what you need to do.

7- Insurance: Take a look at your insurance policies.  If you agreed to maintain certain insurance make sure your insurance is sufficient.  Review your beneficiaries and make sure the designations are current.

8- Consider the future: As needed, review your will and all of your advanced planning documents to make sure any designations are current to your life and support network.

When it is all said and done, the divorce decree will be signed by the judge.  Then, in most cases, it really is finished.  A certified copy of the divorce decree will be the final actual divorce document in most cases.

Jill O’Connell is on twitter @OConnellLawFirm, facebook: and in the office: 940-497-5454.

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