Rebuilding your life after a divorce

Divorces can be difficult. At this emotional time it’s often tough to focus on practical matters. However, it’s important to ensure that you’re protected financially after a divorce – there are a number of stages involved in starting to rebuild your life again.

Step 1 – taking stock

After the dust has settled post-divorce you’ll need to work out what you’ve been left with.

  • New assets. If the divorce settlement has put assets into your hands that you’re not used to dealing with then it might be worth seeking professional help to manage them. An IFA (Independent Financial Adviser) could be essential.

  • Financial support. As a newly single person you may be entitled to financial support that wasn’t previously available. For example, you may be able to claim Working Tax Credits/Universal Credit to help cover your costs.

  • Property. The divorce settlement may have left you with a property that is still owned by both you and your ex. If you own this property as Joint Tenants then the entire property will pass to the surviving owner on the first death. Unless you’re planning to sell it’s worth considering severing the tenancy so that you become Tenants in Common owning distinct shares. This simply requires notice and not your ex partner’s consent.

Step 2 – monitoring

There may be a number of situations that require ongoing monitoring post-divorce.

  • Child maintenance. If you have children and they are mostly living with you, make sure that your ex continues to pay the right level of child maintenance.

  • Shared finances. There could be any number of reasons why you retain a joint bank account post-divorce. If this is the situation then keep an eye out for any unusual transactions involving shared finances and take steps to protect the money if necessary.

  • Shared access to data. You may have had a number of shared accounts with your ex-partner, for example a streaming service or online shopping account. Change the passwords to any shared accounts or close old accounts and set up a new one in your own name. Monitor those accounts for any evidence of misuse.

Step 3 – moving forward

  • Changing your name. The most effective way to revert back to a maiden name is to ask a solicitor to prepare a Change of Name Deed. This will then need to be shown to banks, HMRC, DVLA etc.

  • Rewriting your Will. Once a divorce is finalised, if your ex-spouse was named your executor this will automatically fail, as will any gifts made in the Will. However, it’s still a good idea to rewrite your Will to take into account new assets and intentions to ensure that, on death, your wishes are carried out.

  • Financing the future. A divorce can leave you with different funding sources for retirement if pensions end up being split or offset. Now is a great time to revisit your plans for the future to ensure you’re going to be covered from your current resources. It’s also important to make sure you change the names of the beneficiaries on Pensions and Life Assurance policies.

These three steps will help anyone going through a divorce to get back on their feet afterwards.