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Your Financial Life After Divorce – Why Signing the Settlement Agreement is Just the Beginning

January 1, 2021
Lawyer and client reviewing paperwork

And How to Prioritize Your Post-Divorce Financial To-Dos

Going through a divorce is a major life transition that can be difficult to recover from, both emotionally and financially. After months of negotiations, lawyers and (possibly) arguments, you’ve finally reached a settlement agreement and finalized the divorce. It’s over, right? Unfortunately, no. While the finalization of the divorce is a major step, there’s still a lot of work that must be done to begin your new financial life. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all that must be accomplished in order to move forward, consider taking it one step at a time. Instead of trying to tackle everything at once, break your list into items that must be done now, things that can be done soon, and things that can wait a bit. The following can serve as a starting point to help you navigate the next chapter of your financial life.


There are certain items that must be taken care of immediately following your divorce in order to secure your finances and protect your credit. Complete these items as soon as the ink has dried on your settlement statement.

  • Update beneficiary designations
  • Create a budget
  • Pay bills
  • Establish accounts under your name
  • Retitle your mortgage and, if necessary, begin the process of refinancing


Once you have completed the “now” items, begin working through the following.

  • Investments – Implement new investment allocations based on your new financial situation and risk tolerance.
  • Health insurance – File COBRA documents to extend your health insurance coverage if you don’t have your own policy, and begin planning for long-term coverage once COBRA runs out.
  • Property insurance – Reevaluate your property/casualty insurance coverage based on the property you own, including jewelry, collectibles, artwork, vehicles and other valuables.
  • Estate planning documents – Modify your will and estate planning documents to ensure they continue to protect those who are most important to you.


While the following items are vital to your long-term financial health, they can wait until after you have tackled more pressing issues.

  • Retirement plan – Reevaluate your retirement plan and decide how to handle any retirement assets you received as part of the divorce. Make any changes necessary to ensure your retirement planning strategy continues to meet your needs.
  • Tax strategy – Work with an accountant to run updated tax projections based on your income and deductions. Determine if you need to change your withholding or make estimated tax payments.
  • Emergency fund – Begin saving three to six months of expenses in an emergency fund to protect you in an unexpected situation, such as a job loss or unanticipated expense.
  • Financial plan – Work with your financial advisor to update your financial plan and ensure it continues to meet your long-term needs based on your new financial situation.

At Creative Planning, we understand how emotionally draining divorce can be. That is why we focus on helping you move forward with confidence and security by determining your financial needs, gaining an understanding of your options and helping you make decisions that are in the best interest of you and your family.

This commentary is provided for general information purposes only, should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice, and does not constitute an attorney/client relationship. Past performance of any market results is no assurance of future performance. The information contained herein has been obtained from sources deemed reliable but is not guaranteed.


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