Whom Do I Need to Inform After Divorce?

close up shot of hands signing a contract

After your Judgment of Divorce is signed, you may want to put the process behind you and move forward with the next chapter of your life. However, before you do, there are certain people, organizations, and government agencies you will need to inform, especially if you are changing your name after divorce. Here are some next steps to take after your divorce is final.

Should I Make My Divorce Public?

Some people choose to be public about separating from and eventually divorcing their spouse. Others prefer to keep their personal lives private. However, your ex-spouse could inform someone you intended not to tell, or those you do inform could pass the information along to others you would rather not know. At the same time, after your divorce is final, you may find friends and acquaintances asking after your ex-spouse will become more painful than simply informing everyone at once, through a social media post, for example. Whether to make this kind of announcement is a deeply personal decision. Still, there are some people, or types of people who should be informed after divorce.

Checklist: Who to Inform After You’ve Gotten Divorced

  • Bank: Take your spouse off shared accounts and open new accounts in your name only
  • Creditors: Remove your spouse from credit cards and open new accounts in your name only
  • Mortgage Companies: Refinance to take your spouse’s name off the loan
  • Landlords: Remove your spouse as a tenant
  • Insurance Companies: Change your beneficiary designations and adjust coverage
  • Financial Advisors: Change your beneficiary designations and adjust investment strategies
  • The Post Office (USPS): Complete a Change of Address form after you move
  • Social Security Administration
  • Secretary of State’s Office
  • U.S. Department of State
  • Your children’s school
  • Your estate planning attorney and immigration attorney (for non-U.S. citizens)
  • Your employer

Please note: These are just examples and if your specific settlement agreements indicate otherwise the settlement agreement governs.

Why Your Employer Needs to Be Notified of Your Divorce

Many people hesitate to tell their employer they have gotten a divorce. You may be concerned about discrimination at work, especially if you and your spouse work for the same company. Sometimes, by telling your employer you are getting a divorce early in the process you can find support, flexibility, and understanding from coworkers and your superiors. This can be helpful when attending court hearings and dealing with the emotional impact of getting a divorce. However, once your divorce is final, you need to inform your employer for other, logistical reasons:

  • Adjust your W-4 tax withholding elections
  • After entry of the judgment or other court order/memorialized agreement, remove your spouse from employer-provided health insurance and make sure your children are covered (if you are required to do so)
  • Change your legal name in company records
  • Change your address on file after moving
  • After entry of the judgment or other court order/memorialized agreement transfer your payroll direct deposit to new bank accounts in your name only

Child Custody and Notifying Schools After Divorce

If your divorce involved custody and parenting time of minor children, you will need to send your children’s schools copies of the custody and parenting time portions of your Judgment of Divorce or child custody order. This order will give them notice of whether to look for decision making from you,, your co-parent, or both parents about important issues related to your child (legal custody), and inform them which parent to expect at after-school pick-ups. You may need to provide similar information to your child’s doctors or child care providers.

Even if you were awarded sole legal custody, remember that, in Michigan, each parent is entitled to information about their children. That includes report cards, notices from school, and medical records. Do not remove the other parent from the doctor’s or school’s contact list. This is why you would inform them that you have sole decision-making authority for your child.

How to Finalize Your Name Change After Divorce

A Michigan family court judge can order that your name is changed as part of a divorce action. This is most common for women returning to their “maiden” names, but men can change their name after divorce, too. If you choose to change your name after divorce, getting a judgment is only the first step. After the judgment is signed by the judge, you should request at least 3 “certified copies” of your Judgment of Divorce from the clerk’s office (there is a charge per copy). Certain government agencies will require these certified copies before they will change your name in their official records or issue you new identification:

  • Social Security Administration
  • Secretary of State for driver’s licenses or state IDs
  • U.S. Department of State for passports

If you do choose to change your name, you should do so with every entity that will send you a tax form of any kind (W-2s, 1099s, etc.), even if you intend to continue using your married name in certain contexts. Otherwise, it could create problems for you at tax time.

At NSSSB, we want to help you transition to life after divorce. We know that the entry of a Judgment of Divorce isn’t the end of the issue. Our Ann Arbor family law attorneys can help you create a checklist of everyone you should inform after divorce, and go through the paperwork to complete your name change with state and federal government offices. Click here to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.