Your divorce is final, your assets divided, papers signed, and you’ve talked to your children about how things will change.
But now that the dust has settled, what happens next?
Here is a list of what you should do after a divorce.
1. Manage your documents
Keep your divorce papers in a secure place. This includes your divorce certificate, custody documents, and court orders. If you do not have custody over your children, have a copy of their banking details, passports, birth certificates, and insurance information. You should keep these files at hand as you may need them later on.
2. Update your new status
Update your children’s schools with new emergency contact numbers, inform your HR, and declare your new status in all legal documents. It might be the last thing you’d want to do, but this will impact your benefits at work (if applicable), and eligibility for reliefs.
3. Update beneficiaries’ designation
Look into all of your accounts to see if your ex-spouse is the designated beneficiary and update it to a family member or your children instead. These accounts could be your EPF savings, insurance policies, and investments. Go through your will and decide if you should leave out your ex-spouse, or if you haven’t done so, start writing one. As morbid as it may sound, you should nominate a legal guardian for your children should anything happen to you or your ex in the future.
4. Update your home address
If you are the one who has to move out of the family home, the first thing you should do is change your mailing address. An address change takes a while to reflect, so it is wise to get a head start. Gather a list of companies you should reach out for an address update. Better yet, take this opportunity to go green! Cancel unnecessary mailing subscriptions and have statements sent to your email instead.
5. Change your passwords
It is common for couples to share passwords to online accounts, usually as a sign of trust. Even if you were not into the habit of doing so, make it a point to change your passwords to all emails and social media accounts. Also, remember to update your security questions in which only you would know the answer.
6. Unsubscribe from shared accounts
As with most married couples, you may have shared access to accounts like Netflix, Apple IDs, and cloud storage. Unless mutually agreed, remove yourself altogether from these accounts. If these are subscription services, and your finances allow it, register new accounts for yourself.
7. Banking accounts and credit cards
You could also have existing joint banking accounts with your ex. Talk to them about dividing the funds before deciding to close these accounts. While you’re at it, open a bank account for yourself if you have not done so. If you are a supplementary credit cardholder, request that you cancel that as well. If need be, compare credit cards between banks to find one that best suits your new financial status.
8. Be financial savvy
Planning your finances alone can now be overwhelming, especially if you did not manage the household expenses before the divorce. Learn to prioritise your expenditures, differentiate your needs from your wants, and cut down on monthly luxuries, until you know you can manage them. Try lowering your bills by signing up for cheaper packages or opting out entirely. Speak to a registered financial planner who would be able to advise you on what you should do next.
9. Co-parenting arrangements
Depending on your custody agreement, decide on visitation or overnight schedules. The arrangement should work around extra-curricular activities, school events, and out-of-school lessons. As your children begin to adapt, ease the transition by setting up their own space and room, with their own clothes and toys in both homes.
10. Seek help
There is no shame in reaching out should the going gets tough. Some prefer going for therapy, while others prefer talking to family and friends. Regardless of which method you choose, ensure that you have at least someone on speed dial if things get out of hand. It is also worth noting that the government has several initiatives targeted to help single mothers of low income. These include welfare aids, healthcare benefits, business support, and a directory of single mothers’ associations in every state.
For those who have had an amicable divorce, there may not be a need to detach entirely from your ex. Whichever path you choose, ensure that you have written agreements to avoid facing legal issues in the future.
It may take some time, but you will eventually get to everything on this list. Expect to go through a whirlwind of emotions but tell yourself that this is another hurdle you must overcome. A new life awaits, now go face your fears head-on.