Welcome to FreeDivorce.com.
Christina: This is Christina.
Ed: This is Ed. Today, we are going to talk about what you do after the judge has signed your divorce judgment and you have received the judgment back from the court.
Ed: Christina, what do I do after a judge has signed my divorce judgment and the court has mailed the signed judgment back to me?
Christina: After you receive your Judgment of Dissolution back from the court, signed by the judge, contact your spouse and make sure your spouse received a copy. If they did not receive a copy, make a copy and send it to your spouse.
When you get your judgment back from the court, look at the first page. The first page will tell you the date on which your marital status will be terminated. On that date, you will be restored to the status of being a single person. When this date arrives, you will be single. There are no additional court forms you need to file with the court. You are just automatically single on that date.
Ed: Is there a “Final Judgment” that I need to deal with?
Christina: Not anymore. There is no longer a “Final Judgment of Dissolution”. Many years ago, the court issued an Interlocutory Judgment and then a Final Judgment. Today, we have just a single Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage.
Ed: besides looking at page one of the judgment to see the date on which my marital status will end, what else should I look at on the judgment?
Christina: When you receive your Judgment of Dissolution back from the court, you also want to take a look at page two of the FL-180 form, near the bottom. There is a box entitled, “NOTICE”. Read the paragraph in that box. This paragraph is essentially a warning to people that have just completed a divorce. The warning tells people that they should take various actions. For example, if you have life insurance, don’t forget to review and probably change the designated beneficiary of your life insurance. Change the beneficiary from your former spouse to whomever you want to receive the life insurance proceeds. If you fail to do this and you die, your ex-spouse may receive the life insurance proceeds. The same idea applies to bank accounts with survivor benefits. Some types of bank accounts have designated beneficiaries that will receive the funds upon your death. IRA accounts are an example. When you open an IRA account, you name a beneficiary to receive the funds upon your death. After you, divorce, review your IRA accounts and change the beneficiary from your ex-spouse to whomever you want it to be. Review all assets that you own that have a designated beneficiary, including retirement assets.
If you and your spouse hold title to any assets as joint tenants, change the title. Joint tenancy means if one person dies, the survivor owns the asset. Real estate is frequently held in joint tenancy. Title to cars is also frequently held in joint tenancy. Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles and change the title on all of your vehicles. You want your name removed from the title to the car awarded to your spouse. Get your name off the title, otherwise, you may have some liability if your ex-spouse gets into a car accident or racks up parking tickets. Have the title to the car or cars awarded to you changed so the title is held in just your name. Cancel all jointly held credit cards. If you and your spouse had a living trust, terminate the trust. Read the trust to see what steps you need to follow to terminate the trust. It would be a good idea to contact an attorney and have a new Will and new estate planning documents prepared.
Ed: After I get my judgment back from the court, if my spouse and I have minor children by our marriage, is there one more court form I need to fill out?
Christina: Yes. If you and your spouse have minor children, then within ten days of the date the court issues your judgment of dissolution, you and your ex-spouse are both required to fill out and file with the court a “Child Support Case Registry”, which is FL-191. In our Court Forms Database, you will find both an example of a completed FL-191 and a blank FL- 191 form that you can fill out and print. This is a fo;'[ur page form, but the last two pages are instructions.
Ed: What is the purpose of the FL-191?
Christina: The information in the FL-191 can be used by the State of California to track down parents that don’t pay their child support.
Ed: I looked at the FL-191 and it contains all kinds of sensitive information, including social security numbers for myself, my ex-spouse, and our children. I don’t want this information in my file. If my file is open to the public, this information could be used for identity theft.
Christina: The FL-191 does contain all kinds of sensitive financial information, including social security numbers for you and your children. Although this form is filed with the court, this one form is not a public record. Any third party wanting to look at your divorce file at the court will not be able to see this form.