Divorce, whether contested or uncontested, can be overwhelming and complicated. The best thing you can do is prepare for it properly. Your attorney will require a few documents to represent you in the best way possible. Having everything readily available is a good idea to help move the process along faster. However, you may also want to consider a few things before you decide to file for divorce.
Before You File For Divorce
If reconciliation is possible, it may be in your best interest to first seek out a marriage counselor to see what can be salvaged. A divorce is final and should only be seen as a point of no return. Following that, get yourself a skilled lawyer experienced in a divorce of your caliber—someone who can handle high-asset divorce, high-conflict divorce, or maybe even collaborative law if applicable.
You will want to decide whether fighting for your marital home is crucial. Living in the same home with the person you are ending a marriage with may not be in either of your best interests. Figure out if making other living arrangements during the divorce process would not be wiser.
Gather all copies of any pre-marital property division agreements to be able to hand over to your attorney. Uncontested divorces are usually the easiest, and having reached settlements on certain assets can make the process less hectic.
Break free from any joint accounts you may have so as not to incur any additional unwanted debt. You should only open a new checking or savings account in your name and redirect any direct deposits to them.
Think of Your Finances
Gather and make copies of your recent pay stubs, W-2s, and 1099s. If you have access to your spouse’s income forms, making copies of them would be a good idea. Tax returns can be helpful to establish total income for you and your spouse. They can also help to identify any deductions or expenses relevant to the divorce. Statements for IRAs, 401(k)s, and any other retirement accounts, including your bank accounts, personal or joint, should be made into copies and provided to your attorney.
Do not hide any assets from your spouse, your attorney, or the court. Doing so could see hefty charges against you, as hiding assets in a divorce is illegal. The same can be said for your spouse. Hire an investigator to route out any assets you think they may be hiding from you. Illinois is a fair and equitable state regarding marital property. Anything hidden will likely be found, so it is in your best interest to remain completely transparent and forthcoming throughout the process.
Prioritize your marital assets and what you hope to receive in the settlement. Prepare to compromise, even on assets that matter to you most. Make an inventory of all property and include copies of deeds, titles, and any other property records you may have access to.
Think of Your Children
Expenses regarding your children and their extracurricular activities, medical needs, or anything else you feel pertinent to the outcome of your divorce should be compiled into a list. You should get any statements for child care expenses and provide an update to all contact information, including a change of address to your child’s school.
When deciding on property worth fighting for, keep your children in mind. What would be worth keeping that is in their best interest? Family home? A vehicle required to get them from point A to point B daily? Your children should be a priority throughout the entire divorce from beginning to end.
Contact a Cook County, IL Family Law Attorney
At [[title]], tackling as many obstacles early in the divorce as possible is important. This will only serve to make the entire process that much easier for both parties. For additional help in preparing for a divorce, a skilled and experienced Chicago, IL divorce lawyer can be a Godsend. Contact our Chicago office at [[phone]] for a free consultation.