Once you get through a divorce, you'll want to tie up a few legal loose ends as you prepare to start your new life. The most common legal steps that newly divorced individuals need to do include changing names officially, preparing for a restraining order, requesting enforcement of the divorce decree, establishing a garnishment, and retitling all necessary property.
Change Your Name Officially
If you decide that you want to change your name, either to take back your maiden name or just to change it, then now’s the time. Some states work the name changing process into the divorce proceeding. However, in most cases, you must file to legally change your name separately. It’s always a good idea to talk to your divorce attorney about name changes early-on, so you can figure out when and how to smoothly get your name changed.
Prepare for a Restraining Order
Some divorces end with antagonism, and if you need to protect yourself, it may be necessary for you to get a restraining order against your former spouse. While it shouldn’t discourage you, know that it may be difficult if you have not prepared for it adequately. Most states, such as Indiana, require a clear track record of offenses leading up to the restraining order. This requirement means that you must offer proof that a restraining order is necessary. Document hostile encounters, including times and dates. Report any situations to the police. Do not ignore them. The good news is that if you prepare for it in advance, you will be better able to protect yourself and you will be in a better position overall.
Request Enforcement of the Divorce Decree
You may find that you can't get your ex-spouse to hand over property or cooperate with the decree. Things become even more complicated when you’re dealing with property in another state. Fortunately, you don't have to settle this all alone, and other states will recognize most divorce decrees. To request enforcement, you must either submit an official copy of the decree to the appropriate county or you can request that the clerk's office forward a copy. A fee will apply either way, but it may be well worth it.
Establish a Garnishment
If you are the custodial parent or have been given spousal support, then you must get the garnishment enforced, if applicable. Although the decree itself requires that the payments be made, obtaining enforcement may require assistance. All states have an IV-D office that enforces child support orders. They won’t charge you for this service, but they don’t collect spousal support themselves. If you need assistance to establish garnishment, you either need to file your suit to enforce it after six months or you will have to hire an independent agency to assist you with it.
Retitle All Necessary Property
If houses or vehicles have been transferred in the divorce decree, you may need to retitle them. Check to make sure that your spouse has not had a lien put on them. While most lawyers will check to ensure that your vehicle is clear of liens, you’ll need to take care of it, if you are representing yourself. You will have to contest the lien if it was wrongly placed, and retitling the property in your name alone will help you protect your property from wrongly placed liens after the divorce.