How to Prepare for Your Divorce

  • May 21 2018

Preparing for a divorce before you begin the process can reduce some of the stress associated with a marital break up. In addition, preparing for the divorce can also protect your best interests, help you avoid post-divorce pitfalls, and enable you to make sound decisions for your future. In this article, our Illinois divorce attorneys  discuss important steps you should take when preparing for a divorce.

Key Steps to Prepare for Your Divorce

  1. Consult a Divorce Attorney Before Beginning the Divorce Process in Illinois

One of the first steps to take when you are considering a divorce is to work with an attorney you trust and who makes you feel comfortable. Even in an “amicable” divorce, there are many issues that must resolved. You need an advocate who understands the divorce process and who will work to protect your best interests and those of your children.

  1. Gather Important Financial Documents

Another crucial step is to gather and copy important financial documents for safekeeping, such as:

  • Income tax returns, including tax returns for any businesses in which you or your spouse have an interest
  • Bank statements, including all online financial accounts (i.e. checking, savings, money markets, etc.)
  • Statements for debts, including credit cards, mortgages, personal loans, and lines of credit
  • Insurance policies, including life insurance, health insurance, and long-term care insurance
  • Statements for all retirement accounts, including 401k accounts, IRAs, pensions, etc.
  • Current pay-stubs for you and your spouse.

Once you share your intention to divorce with your spouse, you may no longer have access to some of these documents.  While your attorney can request copies of these documents during the discovery phase of the divorce process, it’s helpful to gather as many as possible in advance to avoid or reduce the cost and delay associated with discovery.

  1. Open Separate Bank Accounts and Credit Cards

Now is the time to open a separate checking and savings account provided you do not already have one.  Additionally, this is the time to open new credit card accounts.  It most cases you will qualify for a larger credit limit because you can state your total household income rather than just your income.  It is also wise to obtain a copy of your credit report to continuously monitor your accounts for any suspicious purchases or transfers.   Maintaining good credit will only serve you well following your divorce.

  1. Don’t Make any Agreement with your Spouse Until you Consult an Attorney

It’s common to want to negotiate directly with your spouses in the hopes of quickly and amiably resolving your divorce.   Problems may arise when either spouse is unaware of his or her rights and unwittingly agrees to receive less property, support, or parenting time than he or she might otherwise have received.  Therefore, it’s vital to seek the advice of an experienced attorney prior to entering into discussions with your spouse so you are familiar with your rights.  It’s also crucial that you don’t make any agreements or sign any documents presented by your spouse, unless you have consulted a knowledgeable family law attorney and are confident that you know what you are agreeing to.

Any agreement you make with your spouse before you file for divorce or while your divorce is pending may be enforced by a family law court.  If your spouse asks you to sign any documents, consult an experienced family law attorney so you know exactly what you are agreeing to.  Also, give even seemingly routine decisions sufficient thought.  For example, if your spouse requests extra parenting time over the holidays be sure it’s something you are comfortable with because you most likely won’t be able to change your mind later.

  1. Protect Non-Marital Assets and Property

Except for inherited property and gifts, the property obtained while you are married is marital property and subject to the rules of equitable distribution in Illinois. However, the property you owned before you married your spouse is non-marital property and should not be subject to property division. It is very important that you keep all non-marital property separate from marital property. Commingling property may result in your non-marital property being included in a property division.  Here again, consulting with a knowledgeable family law attorney can help you avoid a common mistake.

  1. Build a Support Network

Finally, going through a divorce is a life changing experience that can become an emotional burden. It is crucial to take care of your mental and physical health and surround yourself with a support network of family, friends and professional counselors.

Contact an Illinois Divorce Lawyer for More Information

If you are considering a divorce or you are separating from your spouse, contact our Illinois divorce attorneys today. Above all, our legal team is dedicated to protecting your best interests and helping you move on with your life.

 

Posted in: Divorce