Items to Consider Once Your Divorce Decree is Entered
Your Decree of Dissolution has been entered. Your attorney has provided you with a copy with your attached parenting plan (if there are children), along with your division of marital property. While the Decree has numerous orders for both of you to follow, the following are some main points to consider in order to avoid further legal action in your case.
- Marital Home – If there is a marital home, pay attention to whether you or your spouse have to refinance the mortgage in your separate name and how long you have to do so. Hopefully, your attorney has been working with you and opposing counsel to determine who will get the house. This can be a difficult topic to discuss. Neither of you may want to give up the home you did so much work on over the years. However, the court will divide the residence and put a timeline on its division. So, for example, if your ex-spouse is awarded the home then he will usually have anywhere from 6-12 months to refinance the house in his name only (assuming it was previously in both names). Or the house may be ordered sold for the first reasonable price and proceeds equally divided. No matter how the court orders the marital home disposed of, make sure to discuss the possibilities with your attorney early on in the case, reality-check what is practical, and abide by the court’s timelines.
- Marital Accounts – Accounts acquired by either of you during the marriage through joint efforts will be divided. This division can be done during the case by closing and dividing them equally amongst yourselves or after your decree is entered. Ordinary bank accounts; i.e., checking and savings accounts, will be awarded separately to each of you. Any difference in the values of these accounts can be made up for in a property settlement or equalization payment. Meanwhile, retirement accounts, including 401ks, pensions, and IRAs will be divided via a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). Still other accounts, such as those held for the benefit of the kids, may remain in both your names with one of you responsible for withdrawing money for expenses. Pay attention to how these accounts are divided, and how long you have to divide them.
- Restoration of Former/Maiden Name – In Nebraska, you can be awarded your former, or maiden name, if any, in the decree. If you are receiving your former name, make sure to request a certified copy of your decree from your attorney. Or, be prepared to request one from the clerk’s office. It is your responsibility to take your certified copy to agencies such as the DMV, Social Security, and other agencies to accurately change your name in their records. Failure to follow through on this order may impact other orders in your decree.
- Equalization Payment – Once all marital property is divided one of you may owe an equalization payment to the other side. This is calculated for the purpose of equalizing the marital estate; i.e., walking away with very close to, if not exactly 50% of all marital assets and debts. There will be a timeline for one spouse to make this payment. This timeline can be fairly short (90 days) or longer (12 months) depending on its amount and other factors, such as need by the recipient. Make sure to pay attention to who is making the payment and the timeline involved for making the payment.
You just received your decree and have been through one of the most difficult times of your life. You do not want to be in court again in your case. Therefore, please pay particular note to the above items, and any others in your decree to avoid further legal action on such issues. For further assistance and advice with this and other issues in your case, please contact the experienced team of family law experts at Slowiaczek Albers & Whelan PC, LLO to schedule your initial consultation.