Every divorce is unique. Some divorces move through the process quickly and others seem to drag on for months or years. While attorneys and judges are often blamed for cases that languish, sometimes the delay can be attributed to emotional roadblocks. One or both spouses are stuck, unable to accept an aspect of the process. Below we explore the six most common areas for emotional bottlenecks in a divorce. Keeping an open mind and challenging your own thought process could help you resolve your case more quickly and cost-effectively.
Individuals facing divorce are understandably often overwhelmed. They may have assumed new and/or more demanding roles at home and at work. They may also be dealing with demands from the courts and lawyers, as requests for information and documents rush in. Juggling new responsibilities and other demands is stressful, especially when you’re doing it without the assistance of a partner.
Failing to deal with the emotional upheaval of the divorce process can slow your case down. For example, it may be difficult to summon the energy to respond to your attorney or your spouse’s attorney’s requests for information and documents. While it’s understandable, it is also problematic. Being unable to respond to your attorney’s requests for information not only slows down the process but it prevents your attorney from developing a strategy for your case. Without supporting documentation or other evidence your attorney can’t defend or advocate for your position as forcefully or persuasively. It is also financially costly. If the delay is significant, repeated or in violation of a court order your attorney will have to spend billable hours defending your tardiness or non-compliance with the court. If you violate a court order you can be subject to monetary sanctions. Whether you rely on a trusted confidant, get solace from a hobby, or seek the advice of a therapist, having a means for expressing and managing your emotions while divorcing will ultimately save your time and money.
Not every divorce resembles the War of the Roses. Increasingly, the opposite is the case. Couples are seeking out low conflict methods for resolving their divorce, such as mediation and collaboration. While low conflict alternatives are favorable and beneficial, it’s easy to let your guard down when working through a divorce cooperatively. Just because you are able to communicate calmly and respectfully with your spouse during your divorce, doesn’t necessarily mean he or she has your best interests in mind. Spouses sometimes equate civility and cooperativeness with a lack of self-interest. Civility and cooperativeness can be a wolf in sheep’s clothing; your spouse may be civil, even cordial, while trying to persuade you to accept a deal that’s not in your best interests. Compounding the problem, client’s sometimes reject the advice of their experienced divorce attorney who may have seen this scenario play out a time or two. The consequences of blindly trusting a soon to be ex-spouse over your divorce lawyer can slow down your divorce or worse lead to an unfavorable outcome.
A frequent barrier to resolving a divorce occurs when one spouse equates the other parent’s lack of contribution to daily parenting during the marriage with an inability to act in the best interests of the children. The lack of past contributions to daily parenting is cited as a basis to deny, limit, or restrict future parenting time. In most cases, the best interests of the minor children are served when they have frequent and close contact with both parents. This often translates into regular overnight parenting time for both parents. The past parenting contributions of each parent during the marriage are highly relevant to the allocation of parenting time during a divorce, but not dispositive. To restrict or deny parenting time, there must be evidence that the children’s best interests would be jeopardized by contact or frequent contact with a parent. The fact that a parent never took a child to the pediatrician, arranged a playdate, or drove to soccer practice is not, by itself, evidence of an unwillingness or inability to act in the best interests of the child. Confusing a prior lack of contribution to daily parenting with an inability to parent effectively and consistently with the best interests of the children can slow you down your case and cause you to expend unnecessary energy, time and resources resisting an appropriate allocation of parenting time.
Divorcing parents also sometimes fail to appreciate that time without the kids might be beneficial, especially after a divorce. Parenting is hard work. A few days off can help you recharge and renew so you can be more present and available for your kids. Setting aside whether or not your spouse is up to the job, failing to recognize that you might benefit from regular time away from the kids can trip up your divorce. If your spouse is willing to take on more responsibility and seems reasonably capable too, even if he or she has demonstrated little interest in parenting responsibilities in the recent past, it might be a beneficial change. Parenting on your own can be physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting. If you are doing the work without any help, having a few days or weekends off could be a welcome change that allows you recharge and explore new interests. Consider this before spending months arguing for a parenting plan that gives you little time off.
When it comes to the martial home, divorcing individuals often think emotionally not financially. The marital home represents more than a dollar value: it may evoke precious memories, define your neighborhood, and control where your children attend school. For these reasons, one or both spouses may make the emotional decision to fight to keep the home without taking a hard look at what that means financially. Financially, homes are costly. Sometimes individuals fail to consider all the costs associated with the marital home including: mortgage payments, property taxes, home insurance, mortgage insurance, utility bills and regular maintenance. If meeting these obligations each month precludes saving money, or worse, requires you to rely on debt, keeping the house is not a good financial decision. Similarly, individuals often overlook the cost of selling the home at a later date. They forget that they will need to pay: the broker’s commission, outstanding property taxes, and make necessary repairs and maintenance. Once those items are paid, the proceeds from a sale may be relatively meager. By insisting on the marital home, you may be hurting yourself financially down the road.
Dividing retirement assets can present an emotional roadblock because these benefits arise from work outside the home that is separate and unrelated to your spouse. While you may have kept your work and married life separate, under Illinois divorce laws pension credits and 401(k) contributions earned during the marriage are martial property that must be divided equitably. This is true even if your spouse never worked, knowingly choose a less lucrative career, or simply failed to save for retirement. If it was earned during the marriage, your spouse has a valid claim to those benefits. Keeping this in mind can prevent you from needlessly spending resources on an undefendable position.
When you hire Goodman Law Firm, you hire a talented team of legal professionals that fight for your best interests. With compassion and empathy, we listen to your goals and needs and elicit your fears and hopes. We give you sound and informed legal advice on how we can move you toward your desired outcome. Our advice and guidance are always predicated on what is possible and likely under Illinois divorce law. We will be on your side every step of the way helping you make smart choices on the path toward divorce. If you are ready for an informed and candid assessment of your divorce options, contact us today to schedule a consultation with a Naperville divorce attorney.
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