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Divorce practicalities after the decree is final

In many cases, finalizing a divorce in Massachusetts is just the first step to completing the property division process. While spouses and their attorneys may have negotiated long and hard to reach a settlement, the final divorce decree does not complete the task of actually dividing the marital assets. Instead, both spouses will need to take action.

In many cases, a freeze is in effect over marital assets while the divorce is pending to prevent one spouse from confiscating joint assets. After that freeze is lifted, it is time to actually divide those assets. Joint bank accounts will need to be closed and the account divided as agreed upon into each spouse's individual account. For property with a title, it will need to be retitled as agreed in the name of the spouse who will keep the property. This includes motor vehicles like cars and boats as well as major assets like the marital home. If one spouse will keep the home, the other spouse will need to disclaim interest through a quit claim deed. In most cases, the remaining spouse will also need to refinance the mortgage as the sole owner.

There are a number of forward-looking actions that people will need to take after the divorce is finalized. Unless otherwise agreed as part of the settlement, each spouse will need to change the beneficiaries of their life insurance, retirement accounts and investment accounts to reflect the divorce. Most people will also need to revisit their wills, trusts and other estate planning documents to remove a former spouse.

The divorce legal process can involve complex negotiations over issues like child custody, property division and spousal support. A family law attorney may help people handle these matters and provide guidance throughout the post-divorce period of implementing their agreement.

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