Getting a Second Opinion on Your Final Order Before You Sign
It's been an emotional roller coaster and you just want it over so you can move on with your life.
The order looks like a bunch of legal jargon and so you skim over it and say, 'Yeah, yeah, it looks right.
My attorney said everything would be in there that we agreed to, so I trust that it is and sign off on it.
' You are just ready to move forward.
Fast forward a few months and you just received your QDRO (Qualified Domestic Relations Order) document.
Your portion of your spouse's retirement plan is now in your name.
Is it right? Who knows? It's a bunch of legal jargon too! What should you do? First of all what should have happened originally is that the order should have been reviewed by the attorney with the client in full detail, so that the client can ask questions directly to the attorney.
Typically the order is mailed or emailed to the client for review and their signature.
The client signs it, trusts that it is correct, and then sends it back to their attorney.
Or a client has the order, skims through it, and sees that everything looks right as agreed, but doesn't realize some items are missing.
What should you do to ensure that all items agreed to in your divorce settlement are also in your final divorce order? If you and your spouse went to mediation, make sure you receive a copy of what was agreed to in mediation before you leave! If you and your spouse reached a settlement between your attorneys, get everything in writing from your attorney and check it off alongside the final order.
Items in your final order to pay attention to as you review it:
- Child support & visitation-are the numbers correct? Are the days, holidays and vacations correct?
- Alimony-Check that the amount, time frame and taxability of the support are correct
- Property Division-The marital home, marital and non-marital property, vehicles, vacation homes, time shares, personal possessions, furniture, and other personal items are all clearly divided.
Pay attention to the language of refinancing the marital home, vacation homes, time shares, and vehicles.
Double check that the time frames are accurate.
- Retirement Accounts-A 401(k) is separate from a pension plan, ensure that a separate QDRO is written for each.
IRA's do not require a QDRO, just a final divorce decree that clearly states how to split these accounts
- Bank Accounts-Most spouses already have these accounts separated, but ensure that all bank accounts are listed fully.
- Health Insurance-Most employer plans will cease covering the divorced spouse, but check with the employer first before agreeing to be taken off.
COBRA is very expensive and usually the insurance company cannot tell you how much COBRA will cost.