“What You Need to Know  Before and After the Final Decree”                  Presented By: Texas Advanced Paralegal Seminar...
After litigation of the case, the informalsettlement agreement (ISA), themediated settlement agreement (MSA)and/or the Jud...
What you need toknow BEFORE the  Final Decree…          What You Need to Know Before and After          the Final Decree  ...
Effects of a Final Decree of Divorce(1)Dissolution of MarriageThe primary effect of a divorce decree is to terminatethe ma...
   Establishing that the parties were in fact married prior to the    divorce, which is especially important in the case ...
Basic Items in a Final Decree of Divorce:   Appearances       Petitioner/Respondent   Record of Testimony   Jurisdictio...
   Grounds for Divorce (Section 6.001)       Insupportability       Cruelty       Adultery       Abandonment       Living...
• Property and Debts        Husband’s Separate Property        Wife’s Separate Property        Husband’s Community Propert...
Name Change       A lot of client’s are unsure about a name change during a divorce proceeding. You must advise your clien...
Health Insurance   Depending on who your client is, you may need toaddress the issue of health insurance.     A client wit...
Property Division – Although the most broad portionof the decree, this can also be the most problematic.A few words of wis...
DEBT    Before your client signs the final decree of divorce,    you should advise them to research each and    every acco...
Deeds   Special Warranty Deed       Use legal descriptions in your decree as your       decree can be used to transfer ti...
QDRO’sWhat is a QDRO?   Qualified Domestic Relations OrderThe first step in preparing a QDRO is to contact theplan adminis...
Vehicle(s)      A POA will be needed to transfer title on a  vehicle in the other spouses name or a vehicle in  both spous...
Children  Withholding Order – you want to make sure your  client understands when the actual Order will take  affect.  Vis...
AFTER the FinalDecree - this is whenthe REAL work begins   for your client!           What You Need to Know Before and Aft...
Child Issues       Your client should immediately notify schools orday care facilities of any changes in the pickup ordeli...
Properties Awarded in the Decree        Your client will need to record any documentsnecessary to transfer title into thei...
If your client was awarded a portion of a retirementplan, they will need to submit to the plan administratorthe necessary ...
Health Insurance        If your client had health insurance under theirex-spouses group employment insurance, they havethe...
Address and Name Changes        If your client’s address has changed or if theirname was changed in the decree, they will ...
Basic Post Divorce Estate PlanningNew WillYour client will need to have a new will prepared tomake certain the people they...
Changing Beneficiaries      Your client should review the payee of the survivor benefits under their 401(k) or other retir...
Financial Accounts  Specifically in connection with financial accounts  that were awarded to your client (bank accounts,  ...
Miscellaneous Items for clients:      Change any computer or phone passwords toensure Internet privacy.       Contact a ce...
In some instances, your law firm may holdcertain originals or copies of documents inconnection with your client’s case. Ca...
ConclusionSurprisingly, most law firms do not take the time or effortto consider a majority of the items we discussed toda...
KEEP UP WITH US ON THE WEB!   FACEBOOK       facebook.com/AshmoreLaw   TWITTER       Twitter.com/AshmoreLaw   YOUTUBE  ...
“This material is a publication of The Ashmore Law Firm, P.C. and should not be construed as offering legal advice. Thisma...
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What You Need to Know Before and After the Final Decree

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What you need to know before and after the Final Decree of Divorce. This presentation was given by Gary Ashmore at the Texas Advanced Paralegal Seminar in October 2012.

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What You Need to Know Before and After the Final Decree

  1. 1. “What You Need to Know Before and After the Final Decree” Presented By: Texas Advanced Paralegal Seminar (TAPS) October 3 – 5, 2012Crowne Plaza Hotel, 14315 Midway Road, Addison, TX What You Need to Know Before and After the Final Decree 1
  2. 2. After litigation of the case, the informalsettlement agreement (ISA), themediated settlement agreement (MSA)and/or the Judge’s ruling from thebench, it is now time to document theagreements and/or rulings into a finaldocument called… Final Decree of Divorce What You Need to Know Before and After the Final Decree 2
  3. 3. What you need toknow BEFORE the Final Decree… What You Need to Know Before and After the Final Decree 3
  4. 4. Effects of a Final Decree of Divorce(1)Dissolution of MarriageThe primary effect of a divorce decree is to terminatethe marriage and restore the parties to the status ofsingle persons.In addition, a dissolution of marriage has a number ofother immediate effects, including the following: What You Need to Know Before and After the Final Decree 4
  5. 5.  Establishing that the parties were in fact married prior to the divorce, which is especially important in the case of an informal or common-law marriage. Ending the marital community. Voiding all provisions in a spouse’s will that purport to be in favor of the other spouse. Disqualifying the parties from the tax advantages available to, and relieving the parties from the tax burdens placed on, married persons, generally beginning with the year of divorce. Destroying the parties’ respective privileges to keep each other from giving adverse testimony in criminal prosecutions occurring after the divorce. Interspousal communications made during the marriage, however, remain privileged in both civil and criminal cases. What You Need to Know Before and After the Final Decree 5
  6. 6. Basic Items in a Final Decree of Divorce: Appearances Petitioner/Respondent Record of Testimony Jurisdiction Children of the Marriage What You Need to Know Before and After the Final Decree 6
  7. 7.  Grounds for Divorce (Section 6.001) Insupportability Cruelty Adultery Abandonment Living apart Confined in a mental facility Conviction of a felony What You Need to Know Before and After the Final Decree 7
  8. 8. • Property and Debts Husband’s Separate Property Wife’s Separate Property Husband’s Community Property Wife’s Community Property Husband’s Debts Wife’s Debts • Name Change Court Costs Attorney’s Fees Other Orders Signatures What You Need to Know Before and After the Final Decree 8
  9. 9. Name Change A lot of client’s are unsure about a name change during a divorce proceeding. You must advise your client’s that this is their one chance, their “get out of jail free card” for changing their name. If they decide later to do a name change it will cost them! We will re-visit this Name Change in further detail after the divorce decree. What You Need to Know Before and After the Final Decree 9
  10. 10. Health Insurance Depending on who your client is, you may need toaddress the issue of health insurance. A client with health issues that is relying solely ontheir spouses health insurance for coverage mayneed to consider asking for additional support to helpcover the costs associated with COBRA. What You Need to Know Before and After the Final Decree 10
  11. 11. Property Division – Although the most broad portionof the decree, this can also be the most problematic.A few words of wisdom… Divide what you can ahead of time! Personal property items (i.e. knifes,forks, you know, the important stuff!) Gifts and furniture items Cell phones Etc… Document ALL pick-ups! What You Need to Know Before and After the Final Decree 11
  12. 12. DEBT Before your client signs the final decree of divorce, you should advise them to research each and every account that the decree references no matter if that account falls under the “Husband” or “Wife” section. Who’s name are the accounts under? Consider refinancing jointly held debt. Liquidating assets to re-pay the debt such as the car, house, real property, 401(k). What You Need to Know Before and After the Final Decree 12
  13. 13. Deeds Special Warranty Deed Use legal descriptions in your decree as your decree can be used to transfer title in some instances. Deed of Trust to Secure Assumption Owelty Lien What You Need to Know Before and After the Final Decree 13
  14. 14. QDRO’sWhat is a QDRO? Qualified Domestic Relations OrderThe first step in preparing a QDRO is to contact theplan administration for a sample QDRO.Once you have drafted your QDRO, send back tothe plan administrator for pre-approval to avoidfuture problems. What You Need to Know Before and After the Final Decree 14
  15. 15. Vehicle(s) A POA will be needed to transfer title on a vehicle in the other spouses name or a vehicle in both spouses name. An Assignment of Interest will be needed for the purposes of a leased vehicle. Not getting these documents signed before the signing of the decree can cause your client unnecessary headaches in the future! What You Need to Know Before and After the Final Decree 15
  16. 16. Children Withholding Order – you want to make sure your client understands when the actual Order will take affect. Visitation schedule – Visitation, especially summer visitation, can be very confusing for clients, make sure they understand BEFORE signing the decree.Taxes – You may want to speak with your clients CPA before the decree is final, it could save them money!Mediation Clauses – Beneficial for some, NOT for What You Need to Know Before and After others. the Final Decree 16
  17. 17. AFTER the FinalDecree - this is whenthe REAL work begins for your client! What You Need to Know Before and After the Final Decree 17
  18. 18. Child Issues Your client should immediately notify schools orday care facilities of any changes in the pickup ordelivery schedule and whether there are anychanges in who has authority to pick up the child. Your client should advise the school if there areany changes of address or telephone number foreither party so that each parent will receive notices,mailings, and reports. If any of the events occur as set forth in thedecree to require the notifications also listed in thedecree (such as change of address or employment),your client should make the required notificationsimmediately. What You Need to Know Before and After the Final Decree 18
  19. 19. Properties Awarded in the Decree Your client will need to record any documentsnecessary to transfer title into their name. Your client willalso need to contact the holder of the mortgage to makecertain all escrow deposits and any other benefits (suchas private mortgage insurance) accruing from theirownership of the property are also transferred into theirname. You should have secured a power of attorney onthe vehicle[s] awarded to your client. Your client shouldtake this power of attorney, the title[s] to the vehicle[s],and evidence of liability insurance to the auto registrationoffice to have the title[s] changed to their name. What You Need to Know Before and After the Final Decree 19
  20. 20. If your client was awarded a portion of a retirementplan, they will need to submit to the plan administratorthe necessary qualified domestic relations order(QDRO) to transfer their portion into an account solelyin their name. Once the QDRO has qualified with theplan requirements, the plan administrator will sendcertain documents directly to your client. Your clientmay wish to seek the advice of a financial planner or taxadvisor to determine whether they should roll theaccount over into another type of plan. What You Need to Know Before and After the Final Decree 20
  21. 21. Health Insurance If your client had health insurance under theirex-spouses group employment insurance, they havethe right under federal law to convert their coverageinto their name in accordance with COBRA. Yourclient only has thirty days, however, from the date thedecree was signed to give notice to their ex-spousesemployer and insurance company that they aremaking that election. They must do so within thethirty-day period, or they may waive their ability tohave this coverage. What You Need to Know Before and After the Final Decree 21
  22. 22. Address and Name Changes If your client’s address has changed or if theirname was changed in the decree, they will need tocontact the following to determine what they need todo to change their information on their records: Department of Public Safety Drivers License Division; Social Security Administration; Credit card companies; Insurance - vehicle, home, life, and so forth; Internal Revenue Service; Mortgage holders; Utilities on residence; State licensing agencies; Credit Reporting Agencies. What You Need to Know Before and After the Final Decree 22
  23. 23. Basic Post Divorce Estate PlanningNew WillYour client will need to have a new will prepared tomake certain the people they want will receiveproperties owned by them in the event of theirdeath.Because a will may not affect certain assets(retirement plans, financial accounts, and lifeinsurance), your client will need to contact thecompanies through whom they have those assetsand sign whatever documents they require to What You Need to Know Before and Afterchange beneficiaries. the Final Decree 23
  24. 24. Changing Beneficiaries Your client should review the payee of the survivor benefits under their 401(k) or other retirement plan. Sometimes the grant of a divorce will not have the effect of changing the beneficiaries. Contact the insurance companies on any life insurance policies your client received or policies covering any asset they received (house, vehicle, and so forth) to make certain all transfer and other forms have been signed to properly effectuate the intent of the decree. What You Need to Know Before and After the Final Decree 24
  25. 25. Financial Accounts Specifically in connection with financial accounts that were awarded to your client (bank accounts, individual retirement accounts, stocks and bonds, and so forth), they will need to contact the financial institutions holding those accounts and follow their advice to make certain their ex-spouses name is not on the accounts and that their ex-spouse has no authority over the accounts. What You Need to Know Before and After the Final Decree 25
  26. 26. Miscellaneous Items for clients: Change any computer or phone passwords toensure Internet privacy. Contact a certified public accountant,accountant, or other person to make certain yourclient has everything from the divorce proceedingthat they will need for preparation of their next taxreturn and to make certain they take whatever actionmay be required that will be necessary or that maybenefit them in the payment of taxes. What You Need to Know Before and After the Final Decree 26
  27. 27. In some instances, your law firm may holdcertain originals or copies of documents inconnection with your client’s case. Call to set up atime for your client to pick up any documents theywant to keep. Advise your client that your firm willretain their file for however long, after which it willbe destroyed. What You Need to Know Before and After the Final Decree 27
  28. 28. ConclusionSurprisingly, most law firms do not take the time or effortto consider a majority of the items we discussed today. Ibelieve this to be an incredible disservice to the client andcan cause unnecessary headache for the client who isalready going through an extremely difficult time. Presentation written by: Gary Ashmore, Attorney at Law Amy Tarno, Paralegal The Ashmore Law Firm 3636 Maple Avenue Dallas, Texas 75219 214-559-7202 www.ashmorelaw.com What You Need to Know Before and After the Final Decree 28
  29. 29. KEEP UP WITH US ON THE WEB! FACEBOOK facebook.com/AshmoreLaw TWITTER Twitter.com/AshmoreLaw YOUTUBE YouTube.com/AshmoreLaw Use your smart phone QR app to scan the ESTATE PLANNING BLOG QR code above. FAMILY LAW BLOG PERSONAL INJURY BLOG www.ashmorelaw.com What You Need to Know Before and After the Final Decree 29
  30. 30. “This material is a publication of The Ashmore Law Firm, P.C. and should not be construed as offering legal advice. Thismaterial is not a privileged communication and does not create a lawyer-client relationship.” What You Need to Know Before and After the Final Decree 30

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