Avoiding Loose Ends: Properly Implementing Your Judgment

For many, the conclusion of a legal matter involves the entry of a judgment.  This judgment may be the result of an agreement between both sides, or it may be a judgment entered after the case goes to trial.  Typically, the entry of the judgment is not the final step in the legal process.  Rather, once you have a judgment in hand, it is important that the terms of the judgment are fully implemented.   This may require action by you or your attorney.   Here are some important examples:

Division of Retirement Accounts: Let’s assume you are awarded a portion of your spouse’s retirement account.  How does that division actually occur?  It depends on the type of account.  For certain “qualified” retirement accounts such as a 401(k) or pension, the division must occur through a document known as a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO, for short) that must be signed by the judge and properly qualified and processed by the retirement plan’s administrator.  If these appropriate steps are not taken in a timely manner, the retirement benefits may not be properly awarded.  Worse – they could be lost.

Sale of a Home: Many judgments require the sale of the marital home.  A properly drafted agreement or judgment should include detailed provisions for the sale of the home and distribution of the proceeds.  It is important that these provisions are followed.

Life Insurance: Some Judgments will include a requirement that a person obtain a policy of life insurance, either to secure maintenance (alimony) obligations, or for the benefit of the children.  There should be a system in place to confirm the existence of this policy on a regular basis.

Other Items to Consider: 1) Have all the bank accounts been transferred/divided as required?  2)  Have joint credit cards been closed?  3)  Have you updated your beneficiary designations?   4) Have cars been properly retitled?   5) Has a wage withholding been filed?

If you have questions about your judgment or any loose ends in your case, please contact us to discuss a consultation.

Be aware every situation is unique.  If you have questions about your individual situation, please contact an attorney.  This post should not be considered legal advice.