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What to Do After My Divorce is Final

Next Steps: What to Do After My Divorce is Final?

 ☐ Get a certified copy of your divorce decree
  • Where? Room 35 (Ground Floor) Clerk of Courts Office in the Cuyahoga County Courthouse
  • Why? This is an important legal document necessary to accomplish the actions below.
  • Need more information on how to get the certified copy? Contact the Clerk of Court at (216) 443-7955 or

Name Changes.  Contact:

☐ Social Security Administration, or (800) 772-1213

☐ Internal Revenue Service ( or local IRS office)

☐ Passport Agency or (877) 487-2778

☐ Bureau of Motor Vehicles or (844) 644-6268 (update driver's license)

Division of Retirement Accounts. 

☐ Private Accounts (401k, 401b, etc.) Complete and submit to court your Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO)

☐ State Government Accounts (OPERS, STRS, etc.) Complete and submit to court your Division of Property Order (DOPO)

☐ Federal Government Accounts (FERS) Complete and submit to court your Court Order Acceptable for Processing (COAP)

☐ Complete and sign all necessary documents

☐ For help, contact the retirement plan administrator, human resources officer, an attorney or retirement plan division professional.

Property.  As ordered in Decree:

☐ Divide all personal property

☐ Execute quit claim deed to transfer title of real  property or confirm spouse has done so

☐ Remove names from lease/mortgage

Vehicles.  As ordered in Decree:

☐ Update names on vehicle titles with Bureau of Motor Vehicles or (844) 644-6268


☐ Pay all support when due.

☐ Payment options:

☐ Register with the Child Support Customer Service Web Portal

☐ Notify your support case worker about any job or health insurances changes. (Anyone with support paid through the Office of Child Support has a case worker.)

☐ Contact your case worker at (216) 443-5100 or through the Web Portal listed above.

Insurance. Report changes to insurers, if needed:

☐ Auto

☐ Homeowner/Rental

☐ Health/Dental/Vision/Other Medical

☐ Complete and sign all necessary documents for COBRA

☐ Life (change beneficiaries if permitted)

Court Orders.

☐ Follow all court orders

☐ Pay court costs. Questions about costs, contact or (216) 443-7982


Estate Planning. Consider:

☐ Updating will, power of attorney (general and health care) and living will.

Financials. Make changes as permitted to:

☐ Financial accounts (checking, saving, etc.)

☐ Creditors (credit cards)

☐ Other debts or loans

Utilities. Make changes as permitted with:

☐ Utility and home service providers (electric, gas, phone, internet, cable, garbage collection, etc.)

Returning to Court.  Need to change a court order or mediate a dispute? Go to or call (216) 443-8880, contact the CMBA Lawyer Referral Service (216) 696-3532 or Legal Aid (216) 687-1900. 

Court mediation services are available at


Dividing Retirement Benefits


This is for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. The division of retirement benefits is complicated.  We recommend that you consult an attorney and/or your retirement plan administrator.


If you or your spouse have retirement benefits (not Social Security, but pension, 401(k), IRA, etc.) part or all of which was earned while you were married, and your Judgment Entry of Divorce or Judgment Entry of Dissolution divides the retirement benefits, you must take additional steps to complete the division of benefits.

Note: How the retirement benefits are to be divided (50-50, 60-40, a specific dollar amount, etc.) is found in the Judgment Entry of Divorce or Judgment Entry of Dissolution. The following orders cannot change the split but are needed to make the division effective. 


Here is what you must do to make the division happen:

Private pensions or retirement plans

Pensions, retirement savings plans, 401(k)s, IRAs, etc., earned while working for a non-government employer or through a union are covered by a federal (U.S.) law called the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Under ERISA, a retirement plan administrator cannot divide a pension or retirement account without a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) from the court that granted the divorce or dissolution.

Railroad Retirement Board pensions are governed by ERISA, and require a QDRO; however, there are also some special rules for these pensions. For example, only part of Railroad Retirement Board pension can be divided in a divorce or dissolution; part cannot be divided. If your or your spouse have a railroad pension, you should consult an attorney or the Railroad Retirement Board

Even though the QDRO is a court order, under ERISA, the pension or retirement plan administrator may reject the QDRO if it does not comply with the plan’s terms or ERISA. Many plans will review a proposed QDRO before it is submitted to the court.

Note: A separate QDRO is required for each pension or retirement account being divided.


Ohio public pension plans

For pensions or retirement benefits in the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS), Ohio Police & Fire Pension (OPFP), State Teachers’ Retirement System (STRS), or School Employees’ Retirement System (SERS), ERISA does not apply – Ohio law requires a Division of Property Order (DOPO). [A DOPO is instead of a QDRO – you don’t need both for a public pension.]

Ohio law requires a specific form to be used for a DOPO – the same form is used by all four state pension plans. Once the judge has signed the DOPO and it has been recorded on the court’s docket, you must request the Clerk of Courts to send a certified copy to the appropriate retirement plan.


Federal employee retirement plans

If you or your spouse have retirement benefits under the federal Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) or Federal Employment Retirement System (FERS), ERISA does not apply, so you need to prepare a Court Order Acceptable for Processing (COAP) instead of a DOPO.

Like the state plans, the federal retirement plans have very specific requirements for a COAP. You, your spouse, or your attorney should contact the appropriate plan for assistance.


Military retired pay

If you or your spouse are entitled to military retirement pay, division of that pension is subject to the federal Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act (USFSPA). A Military Retired Pay Division Order (instead of a QDRO) is required. The order must be served on the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps) or Coast Guard Pay and Personnel Center (Coast Guard, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or Public Health Service).


The court does not prepare QDROs, DOPOs, COAPs, or Military Retired Pay Division Orders. You, your spouse, or your attorney must submit the appropriate completed document to the court for processing. Many retirement plan administrators have specific forms to use for that pension or retirement plan, which you can obtain from the plan administrator. The state and federal plans also have very specific requirements. There are commercial services that prepare the appropriate document for a fee. Once the judge has signed the document and it has been docketed by the Clerk of Courts, it is your responsibility to ensure that a certified copy of the document is sent to the retirement plan administrator.