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What happens after the divorce?

Most Californians who get divorced think that the judgment ending the marriage is the end of the divorce process. However, divorced persons should attend to a number of matters that are not usually addressed in the typical judgment.

Perhaps the most obvious post-divorce issue is ensuring that the former spouse is no longer able to use credit cards that formerly belonged to both spouses. The easiest way to deal with this problem is usually cancellation of all jointly held cards and opening a new account in one name. Life insurance policies and wills usually have named beneficiaries. Changing these names may be necessary (assuming that such changes do not violate the final judgment and decree). Anyone who is newly divorced should inform his or her employer of the changed status so that withholding statements, W-2 Forms and other tax issues will reflect the employee's correct marital status. Another issue may be a jointly owned automobile that the court awarded to one spouse or the other. The California Department of Motor Vehicles should be notified of the change in ownership.

Occasionally, a change in one party's life, such as an unexpected deterioration in financial or physical health, will necessitate a modification of the final judgment's terms regarding child custody, visitation or support. A motion to amend the decree can be filed in the court that ordered the divorce. If both parents can agree on the change, the new agreement should be reduced to writing and filed with the court. If the issues cannot be resolved, either or both parties may find it necessary to retain (or re-hire) an attorney to make a court appearance.

Anyone wondering about whether an existing judgment of divorce can be modified may wish to contact an experienced divorce lawyer for advice on what terms can be modified and the likely outcome of a motion to amend.

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