Moving Beyond an ATRO: The Benefits of Finalizing Your Divorce

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If you’re in the middle of a divorce, it might seem like the process will never end. Whether your ex-spouse is being difficult or you’re just facing long wait times at the courthouse, it’s easy for even simple divorces to drag out. That’s a recipe for frustration.

While there are plenty of steps in the separation process, but eventually, you’ll get your separation finalized. When that day comes, you’ll be glad that you went through with the whole process. Here are just a few of the benefits and changes you’ll experience once you finally get those papers signed and you’re single once again.

ATRO Temporary Orders End

The first and most immediate benefit of finalizing your divorce is the end of temporary orders. As soon as one person serves the other with a summons of dissolution, legal separation, or nullity, something known as an “ATRO” goes into effect.

An ATRO, or Automatic Temporary Restraining Order, puts a freeze on both parties’ legal and financial actions. It’s found on the back of summons paperwork and goes into effect for both spouses from the moment it’s served. An ATRO is intended to safeguard everyone in a divorce by preventing either person from destroying or hiding assets during the process.

This is an important safety measure, but it’s also problematic for people who are still in the process of divorcing. Neither party can take out new loans or even change access to their bank accounts. Once your divorce is finalized, however, ATROs end, and you are free to make whatever decisions you want with your assets.

Support Orders and Mandatory Payments Begin

While finalizing your divorce ends temporary orders, it also begins any new support orders required by your judge or divorce agreement. Many separations, especially those that include many assets, involve spousal support orders for several years or more.

If spousal support is ordered, there will be a due date included in the final divorce decree. The payer, or person ordered to pay, must send the payee the required monthly amount by that due date or be held in contempt of court.

If you’re the recipient of those payments, finalizing your separation can make your life much easier. Instead of struggling to meet your needs, you’ll have a regular monthly resource to rely upon while you begin your new single life. You’ll also have a firm deadline for how long these alimony payments will last: from six months to indefinitely.

Tax Changes Kick In

There are significant differences between the tax obligations of single people and married couples. Getting your separation finalized is what marks the switch between your previous, married tax burden and your obligations as a single taxpayer. Once you’re single again, you no longer need to take your ex-partner’s finances into account on your taxes.

It’s important to note that December 31st is the date that matters for tax purposes. Your legal relationship status at the end of the year dictates whether you pay taxes as a couple or as individuals. Many couples will time their split so that the date it becomes official is to their advantage, financially.

Just keep in mind that a divorce will likely change your tax bracket if one of you made significantly more than the other. Working with your attorney can help you mitigate the effects of tax brackets on your finances after the separation becomes official.

Divided Property Becomes Solely Yours

Part of the official divorce decree is a section that will rule on the official division of marital property. With the end of the ATRO, you and your ex can officially divide property according to that decree. For individual property, you can simply take possession of your items and return anything that belongs to your spouse.

Items with deeds are slightly more complicated. Cars, homes, real estate, and intellectual property require legal documentation to make the transaction legal. Every divorce plays out differently, so make sure you follow your attorney’s advice on making the property transfer official.

Once everything has been fully sorted, though, you’re in the clear. You can sell, transfer, or invest your assets however you want once you’ve taken full possession of them.

Connections to Your Spouse End

Finally, and most importantly, when your divorce is finalized, you are no longer legally connected to your ex as a spouse. While you still need to follow official court orders that were put in place with the separation, you’re no longer bound by the responsibilities of marriage. These include:

Debt: Once your marriage is legally severed, your finances are, too. If your spouse has a tendency to spend too much money, it’s no longer your responsibility. Any debt they acquire is no longer tied to your name, and you have no obligation to pay it off for them.

Medical: Spouses are generally each other’s emergency contacts by default. If one spouse has medical insurance, they are legally required to extend that insurance to their spouse. Once you’re divorced, you don’t have to worry about handling your ex’s medical emergencies or covering their bills.

Cohabitation: Finally, while two people are married, they must share their living space or provide housing for their partner. Under community property laws, housing is considered an asset to which both people have a right. Once your divorce is finalized, though, your assets are divided, and housing is no longer your joint asset. You can live separately wherever you want.

Outro

Whether you’re stuck in an unhappy relationship or you’re just eager to move onto your new single life, getting your divorce finalized is exciting. It might like you’ll never reach that point if you’re facing unreasonable demands, but the right legal help can get you there sooner.

If you want to get your divorce finalized as quickly as possible, then you should work with the best divorce attorneys available. Reach out to the expert divorce attorneys at Kaspar & Lugay LLP for a complimentary consultation. You deserve a speedy resolution; working with the best will help you make that happen.

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