Modern Family Matters

The Importance of Updating Your Documents After a Family Law Case

October 30, 2023 with Pacific Cascade Legal Season 1 Episode 115
Modern Family Matters
The Importance of Updating Your Documents After a Family Law Case
Show Notes Transcript

Join us for our podcast as we sit down with Lead Paralegal, Lisa Parsons, to discuss the importance of updating your personal and public documents once your divorce is finalized. In this interview, Lisa covers the following:

•    Why It Is Important to Update Your Documents 
 •    Types of Documents that Might Need Changing
 •    How to Start the Process of Updating Documents 

If you would like to speak with one of our attorneys, please call our office at (503) 227-0200, or visit our website at

Disclaimer: Nothing in this communication is intended to provide legal advice nor does it constitute a client-attorney relationship, therefore you should not interpret the contents as such.

Welcome to Modern Family Matters, a podcast devoted to exploring family law topics that matter most to you. Covering a wide range of legal, personal, and family law matters, with expert analysis from skilled attorneys and professional guests, we hope that our podcast provides answers, clarity, and guidance towards a better tomorrow for you and your family. Here's your host, Steve Altishin.

Steve Altishin  0:32  
Welcome, everyone. I'm Steve Altishin, Director of Client Partnerships at Pacific Cascade Legal, and today we have our lead paralegal, Lisa Parsons, to talk about the importance of updating your documents after a family law case. Hey, Lisa, how you doing today?

Lisa Parsons  0:49  
I'm Well, Steve, how are you?

Steve Altishin  0:51  
I am well. So let's talk about updating documents after a family law case, and kind of start out with, in general, why you should do this sooner than later.

Lisa Parsons  1:07  
So I think a lot of times people forget that, while they're married, their spouse might be aware of their logins or their passwords or, you know, other account information. So it's really important, you know, especially right after divorce to whether it's make a list or kind of an inventory of what accounts exist. You know, what type of insurance policies do you have what, what are your beneficiary designations, a lot of people move to new residents. And it's really important to update that information in several places.

Steve Altishin  1:44  
Let's start with the big one, and it doesn't always happen, but I know a lot of spouses after divorce may change their name. And while it sounds simpleton to say, your name is on pretty much all of your documents. So talk about that, that kind of changing of the name. First of all, if it even can be done in the divorce, or has to be done somewhere else, or it has to be done both places, and how that kind of works with your documents.

Lisa Parsons  2:17  
So Steve, you made a really great point. When you're getting a divorce, if you think you might want to change your name back to a prior name or a maiden name, it's really important to do it in the divorce process. Through a dissolution of marriage, you can ask to restore your name and is included in it's effective if it's in that divorce judgment, if you down the line choose to change your name, following a divorce, there is a separate process and there's cost involved in changing your name. So oftentimes, we recommend that if clients want to restore prior names, they do it in a divorce, and then it will be necessary to obtain what's called a court certified copy of their divorce judgment in order to effectuate that name change. So like you said, your name is on destroyed everything. So typically, what we say, there's actually a process to this to changing your name. And there's a specific order that you want to do it in. So the first thing you would do, once you have that court Certified Copy in hand, is to contact the Social Security Administration and fill out the necessary paperwork to ask for a name change. Once you have your social security card in hand with your restored name. At that point, you can do things like change your passport, and change your driver's license, those things all need to occur first, before you do anything else. Once you have all of those resolved, or at least your Social Security and your driver's license, then you can make your change with bank institutions or financial institutions on insurance policies on your home utilities, you know, I think that's one that often gets forgotten is your power, your electric your car insurance, your you know, maybe auto loan provider, you really do need to provide all of them with record of your name change. 

Steve Altishin  4:15  
Yeah, that makes sense. The one that I think a lot of people forget and including me, sometimes, is the post office. Right? So for name, that's obviously one thing, you know, you change the name, you got to change and you talked a little bit about your address. But you know, there's a lot of other things that the divorce may want to make you change and I'm kind of specifically thinking of, you know, things like who's your PR, it may have been your spouse and you know, the divorce may have made that automatically go away. But if you didn't have another one named then you just have nothing as a personal representative. So there's a lot of different things you got to change other than just your name and address, isn't there?

Lisa Parsons  5:04  
Yeah, there is. So like I touched on, you know, beneficiaries are one, but also personal representatives, trustees, guardians, health care agents, emergency contacts, there are quite a few things that that you do need to change often will recommend that you review your estate planning documents, or prepare estate planning documents following the dissolution of marriage so that you can name individuals to act on your behalf, whether you're incapacitated, you know, for health or financial reasons, or in the event of your demise.

Steve Altishin  5:38  
One that kind of, I think, also gets forgotten, which is kind of interesting, because it's a divorce, it's your marital status, right? There are places where your marital status matter, and you need to go change those, and one that I kind of see a lot that that doesn't sometimes get updated is your insurance.

Lisa Parsons  6:03  
Right. Insurance. Well, and the other one that comes to mind for me is with the IRS, there's actually a form that they want people to prepare and file as soon as the divorce happens, it's a change of marital status, change, name, change of address, and providing that information right away. And so there, there are extra things that maybe aren't your every day, you know, responsibilities that you think of, you know, whether it's your insurance, your disability, you know, your life insurance policies, all of those need to be updated as well following a divorce.

Steve Altishin  6:41  
Yeah, yeah, I know, another one that, in my former life I used to tell people to do is, a lot of people give their insurance company or their doctor's authorization to allow their spouse to get their health information. And it's under the HIPAA laws, and a lot of people forget to change those, a lot of people forget to change their beneficiaries of their employers benefits. And, and so there's just a ton of things that need to get changed. How do you go, I mean, are there some places, like we talked about, employers or other sorts of people, you really need to talk to? I mean, like, should you really need to talk to your tax person, even before your next taxes?

Lisa Parsons  7:33  
Ideally, yes, there are ways to go about this without necessarily talking to your tax professional, but you know, I will be asking your legal team, you know, if you have some questions on making those changes, or having them give you information on make sure you change these accounts, one thing that I often see come up is a divorce judgment might say that a joint account is to be closed or a joint debt is to be closed, that doesn't automatically happen. It will require that you know, either one or both parties, go to that institution and close it, you may want to check your credit report, you know, typically, I would say at least 60, to 90 days after dissolution to make sure that there are no longer any joint obligations listed on your credit report.

Steve Altishin  8:20  
Which just gets kind of to my last question, which was going to be, what if you need your ex spouse to be involved in that change of a deed or their card title or something like that? How can how can they go about that? Or is there a way around it? Or do they just have to at some point, do some cooperation with their spouse?

Lisa Parsons  8:45  
It depends on the situation, a lot of times, we will try to include that as a part of the post divorce steps where the exchange of titles or signing over. Like a real property deed occurs as a part of the dissolution process. So at the time of signing a judgment, they might need to sign over a deed to real property. But in cases where parties cooperatively work together, it might make more sense for them to exchange vehicle titles and sign them over together separate at their legal team.

Steve Altishin  9:16  
And I just wanted to follow up on one of the things you said which was the pin numbers, the logins, the passwords, the--

Lisa Parsons  9:24  
all of that frustration, yeah.

Steve Altishin  9:27  
All these things. I mean, making a list really is probably the best piece of advice you can get. Because once you start making the list, it just kind of keeps going.

Lisa Parsons  9:37  
That's exactly right. You know, sometimes your legal team can provide you with certain tools in the discovery process, we might have an inventory or list of what exists. And you might want to get a copy of that for your information. So you can say okay, my attorney says these are all the accounts that he had me listed on or she had me listed on I need to make sure that I'm removed or you know, I need to contact these insurance providers, especially when it comes to life insurance and disability insurance. So make list ask your legal team for for a list that they may already have, but really take the time to go through these things, especially in the weeks after a divorce to make sure that you effectuate all these changes.

Steve Altishin  10:22  
Got it. Well, thank you very much today, that was really, really helpful. There are so many things that actually do need to get changed following a divorce on your documents, and on your personal information in general. And thank you, but I will ask one last question. Can they come back and ask you? Can they say, Hey, look at this, am I missing something? You know, what should I be looking out for?

Lisa Parsons  10:50  
Absolutely, yes, yes. I mean, use this as a resource. You know, we are here to help both during and after. And if you have questions that come up later on, reach out.

Steve Altishin  11:02  
I love it. And I encourage that, too. So thank you, Lisa, for being here today. And thank you everyone for joining us. If anyone has further questions, feel free to contact our firm, we can get you connected with someone who can help. And until next time, stay safe, stay happy and be well.

This has been Modern Family Matters, a legal podcast focusing on providing real answers and direction for individuals and families. Our podcast is sponsored by Pacific Cascade Legal, serving families in Oregon and Washington. If you are in need of legal counsel or have additional questions about a family law matter important to you, please visit our websites at or You can also call our headquarters at (503) 227-0200 to schedule a case evaluation with one of our seasoned attorneys. Modern Family Matters, advocating for your better tomorrow and offering legal solutions important to the modern family.