Heather W. Tootle, Attorney & Counselor At Law
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The Law Office of Heather Tootle

3010 Hayden Road
Columbus, Ohio 43235
P: 614-214-9909
F: 614-798-1935

Domestic Case Checklist

After your domestic case, there are some tasks that you need to complete. Most of these items you can do yourself. Of course, you can always contact our office for assistance regarding your post domestic case questions.

  1. On the day of your final hearing, make time to do something that makes you happy. Whether your case was amicable or highly contested you are starting a new chapter in your life and the event is likely to be stressful.
  2. Review the court time-stamped copy of the final documents regarding your case, that our office will provide to you. For example depending on the type of court action you filed, you may receive a Decree of Divorce, Decree of Dissolution, or Judgment Entry (for post decree matters).
  3. If you have not already done so during your case, open checking and savings accounts in your individual name (we recommend you open these at a new bank.)
  4. If your case requires a division of a pension, 401K, or other like retirement asset, our office will explain the need for a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). If you are the person whose name is listed on the account you will need to sign certain release forms provided to you by our office. If you are the recipient of the funds, you may choose to meet with a financial planner to discuss if it would be beneficial to transfer these funds to another account that will maximize your investments down the road.
  5. Review your Social Security status. If you were married 10 years or more, you are entitled to make a claim against your former spouse’s social security. At the time you are eligible for social security payouts, you can receive 100% of your benefit or 50% of your former spouse’s benefit. (See www.ssa.gov)
  6. Transfer vehicle titles such as car, boat, or recreational vehicle titles that were set forth in your final domestic documents. Often car loan companies are not willing to change the name of the debtor on the car loan. However, you should still provide the loan company with new contact information so that bills are sent to the correct address and, if you are the one now paying the loan, so that the loan company will speak with you even if you are not the debtor. It often requires that you mail or fax a copy of your decree to the loan company with a letter explaining that you are the party driving and paying for the car.
  7. Depending on your case, refinance the marital house, rental properties, or vacation home. Since there is usually a strict time as to when this must be complete, you might consider shopping mortgage companies prior to the final hearing. If you are court ordered to pay a portion of the equity from the real estate, this is usually done at the closing when you refinance the property. Also, you may need to sign a Quit Claim Deed transferring your rights in a piece of real estate to the other party. Quit Claim Deeds must be filed with the county recorder’s office. You will discuss all real estate issues in more detail with our office prior to the final hearing in your case.
  8. Change the name on all gas, electric, water, trash, telephone, cell phone, lawn/snow care services, and magazine subscriptions, to reflect who will be responsible for paying.
  9. Update your mailing address with credit card companies, banks, motor vehicle department, and insurance companies.
  10. Close all joint credit card accounts. Open any accounts in your individual name that fit in your financial plan.
  11. If you changed your name as a result of the domestic case, get a new social security card, driver’s license, credit cards, email account, and passport. Notify your bank, children’s school, stockbroker, utility companies, and any other applicable agencies of your name change. You may be required to provide a copy of your domestic court decree.
  12. Close all joint safe deposit and/or post office boxes. Be sure to open a new safe deposit box, or get a fire proof safe for your new Will and important documents.
  13. Be sure that you and your children are covered by health insurance. If your employer offers insurance, you can often enroll anytime if you are eligible by providing a copy of your decree. If you are not employed or not eligible under your employers plan, you may need to obtain private health insurance or temporary COBRA coverage under your spouse’s insurance for up to 36 months. (See cobrainsurance.com)
  14. Be sure to keep a record of your former spouse’s and your children’s social security numbers for future use with tax issues.
  15. Review IRS form 8225 regarding claiming minor children as dependents. You may need your former spouse to sign this form to reflect your final domestic court decree.
  16. Keep detailed records and receipts for proof of child & spousal support payments, whether you are receiving the payments or making the payments.
  17. Contact your children’s schools about updated emergency contact info and where to mail school correspondence for both parents (if you are non custodial parent you might need to provide self addressed envelopes for the office, teachers, & coaches).
  18. Keep detailed records & receipts for payment of school tuition, latch key costs, camps, and extracurricular costs. Many of these items are tax deductible so check with your tax preparer.
  19. Provide the school office with a copy of your parenting time schedule (particularly if there is a problem with the non-possessory parent attempting to take the child from school at inappropriate times.)
  20. Schedule a meeting with your children’s teachers & school guidance counselors to discuss briefly what your child is going through. I suggest doing this even if the case is amicable. I highly recommend doing this at the beginning of the case so that the school is aware of the drastic change your child is experiencing. Even if the parents still get along well, it can be stressful to have one parent no longer living in the home with the child.
  21. If necessary, attend therapy sessions for you and/or your children to help transition to a new single parent lifestyle.
  22. Keep records of your children’s medical costs, including co-pays, premiums, insurance Explanation of Benefits (EOB) etc.
  23. If parenting is ever an issue, maintain a parenting journal with detailed descriptions of any problems as they arise. Be sure to print and save any email or snail mail correspondence with the other parent. Remember, your letters could be used as evidence so be respectful when writing any letters.
  24. Keep your attorney advised of your current snail mail & email addresses so that we can contact you in the event of any changes of the law applicable to your case.
  25. Update your financial plan. You may choose to find a new financial planner at this time. Do a monthly budget for your new financial situation. Our office has a detailed form that we will provide you to help plan your future spending and saving needs. You will likely do one of these worksheets at the beginning of the case with our office as well.
  26. Change the beneficiaries on life insurance, 401K, pensions, and IRA accounts.
  27. Update your will and trust documents. Our office can assist you in updating your will and trust for estates under $2.5 million. If your estate is over $2.5 we will refer you to an estate planning and wealth diversion specialist.
  28. If you have frequent flyer miles, often these are divided in a domestic case. You will be required to provide proof of a name change and your decree to the airline. This may take a few weeks, so start the process before you want to book a flight. Also, if your last name is different from your children’s name, you should bring your children’s birth certificates and your court documents when traveling.
  29. Use an accountant to help you with your first tax return after your domestic case is final.
A month or two after your case is complete, order a new copy of your credit report to ensure that all joint accounts were actually closed and that your credit report is current in all areas.