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Planning ahead for post-divorce finances

Missouri couples going through the painful and sometimes protracted process of getting divorced typically view the signing of the final decree as a finish line. While getting a judge's signature on the dotted line is a major milestone, it's not the end of the process. The court order is more like a set of instructions for the parties.

Prior to getting the court order finalized, the parties should have an action plan in place designating exactly what will be done and by whom. For example, real estate is to be sold and equity divided. If automobile titles are to be transferred from joint to individual ownership, someone must do the legwork and pay the fees. If one party refuses to cooperate, it can be brought to the attention of the court and a finding of contempt is possible. However, it's always best to avoid drastic measures when possible.

Some aspects of the transition to post-divorce life are fairly straightforward. If a name change is desired, a copy of the divorce decree must be provided to government agencies for a new drivers' license, passport and Social Security card. Life insurance beneficiary forms should be changed as well. Wills and other estate planning documents can be revised to reflect changed property holdings and disinherit former spouses. Joint credit accounts must be terminated and individual credit may need to be established.

There are a lot of potential bases to cover in planning for post-divorce life. Having a forward-thinking family law attorney who looks past the litigation process can be beneficial during the process of marital dissolution.

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