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Oak Brook divorce attorney for alternative dispute resolutionGoing through a divorce is likely to be one of the most difficult things you ever do. Fortunately, divorce is also an opportunity to start anew and build a better future. There are several things that you can do now to make the divorce process go more smoothly. If you are planning for divorce, these actions will not ensure a pain-free divorce; however, they may help you avoid mistakes that can make the divorce process more difficult than it needs to be.

Tips for Planning for Divorce

If you are planning to end your marriage, but you have not yet filed for divorce, there are many things you can do now to help prevent unnecessary stress and complications. Hiring an attorney who is experienced in handling the divorce issues you will likely encounter is one of the best first steps that you can take. Additionally, it may be a good idea to:

  • Take stock of your financial situation. Gather financial documents such as tax returns, bank statements, retirement account statements, and loan documents. Assess the assets and liabilities you and your spouse currently own.

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Oak Brook divorce settlement attorneyIf you are like many people thinking about divorce, you probably have little to no experience dealing with the Illinois court system. However, it is important to remember that marriage is a legal union, and undoing that union can be a considerable legal undertaking. Do-it-yourself divorce may initially seem like a good idea. You may be worried about attorneys’ fees, or you may assume that hiring a lawyer will automatically make your situation more contentious. However, many people who decide to take on their divorce without legal assistance soon realize that DIY divorce often causes more problems than it solves. One-size-fits-all solutions are often extremely shortsighted, and they can lead to avoidable financial losses and needless stress.

Divorce Cases Change and Evolve Over Time

Many divorcing spouses still care about their soon-to-be ex and wish to minimize contention as much as possible during the divorce. They may assume that they do not need a lawyer to represent them during the divorce because they are still on good terms with their spouse. Unfortunately, as many divorced people can tell you, the process of ending a marriage can bring out the worst in some people. You are not guaranteed a problem-free divorce simply because the split began amicably. 

By hiring a divorce lawyer, you ensure that you have an advocate on your side should circumstances change. Your lawyer will protect your rights and guide you through the divorce process from beginning to end. If you are worried that hiring an attorney will create unnecessary tension between you and your spouse, it is important to hire an attorney who takes a cooperative approach to divorce cases rather than an aggressive approach. During a “collaborative divorce,” divorcing spouses and their attorneys work together instead of against each other in pursuit of a mutually-agreeable settlement.

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Naperville divorce attorneyEnding a marriage is much more legally complex than many people realize. Getting a divorce is not as simple as dissolving the legal marital relationship and moving on. Divorcing spouses must also decide how to divide their property and debt, allocate the custody of children, and resolve several other issues. Many couples are able to reach an agreement about the terms of their divorce without court intervention. However, others end up going to trial. If you are planning to divorce, you may have questions about the difference between out-of-court settlements and divorce litigation, and wonder if there are ever circumstances in which it makes sense to take a divorce case to trial.

Reaching an Agreement Out of Court

Divorcing couples often struggle to agree on the terms of the divorce. Fortunately, there are several options in Illinois that may help you and your spouse reach a settlement. Many couples find family law mediation to be a useful avenue for reaching an agreement. However, mediation is not always effective. It is also possible that mediation will result in an unfair settlement that favors your spouse more than you. You may also be able to negotiate a settlement through your respective attorneys. Your divorce lawyer will understand how to protect your rights and fight for a favorable settlement. However, even with help from lawyers, a satisfactory settlement is not always possible. In situations like these, the case will go to trial.

When Does it Make Sense to Litigate?

Divorce litigation can be a time-consuming, complicated, and emotionally-draining process. However, sometimes litigation is the only way to avoid an undesirable outcome. If your spouse will not negotiate in good faith, attempts to hide assets, or lies about income or business revenue, it may be nearly impossible to reach a settlement that is based on the truth. Litigation may also be necessary if a spouse simply refuses to compromise or insists on divorce terms that are completely unreasonable. There are pros and cons to divorce litigation. You should choose to go to trial if you believe that the potential advantages outweigh the potential disadvantages of litigation. Your attorney can help you evaluate all of your legal options when it comes to divorce. He or she can sit down with you and go over the potential risks and rewards of each possibility.

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DuPage County divorce attorney dissipation of assets

Property division is often one of the most consequential aspects of divorce – especially for high-net-worth individuals. Some divorcing spouses reduce the value of the marital estate through excessive or careless spending or even intentionally destroying assets. This is referred to as the “dissipation of assets.” When a spouse spends money or property on a purpose not related to the marriage immediately prior to divorce, the other spouse may be entitled to compensation for the dissipated assets. Through a dissipation claim, you may be able to recover the value of assets your soon-to-be ex-spouse spent on extravagant vacations, gifts, or other unnecessary purchases.

Illinois Law Regarding Dissipation of Assets

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) contains a provision defining dissipation and addressing how wasted or destroyed assets should be handled in a divorce. Dissipative spending is excessive spending that does not benefit the marriage in any way. So, spending money on groceries, home repairs, or other necessary, reasonable expenses would not qualify as dissipation. Examples of dissipation may include:

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DuPage County family law attorneysLegally, it does not matter which spouse files for divorce in Illinois. The spouse that files for divorce is called the petitioner (or plaintiff), and the other is the defendant (or respondent.) Technically, this terminology has no impact on the outcome of a divorce. However, which spouse files for divorce can have subtle, largely subjective effects on the divorce proceedings, a few examples of which we will offer in this post. If your spouse filed for divorce or you plan to, do not hesitate to speak with a divorce attorney so that you can be better prepared to pursue a fair and sustainable outcome.

Why the Timing of Divorce Filing Could Matter

Before understanding the psychological consequences of filing for divorce, it is worth understanding how the time when a petitioner files can affect the divorce process. First, the court will most likely use the date of filing to determine the value of a couple’s assets that must be divided. If you wait too long to file, your spouse can dissipate your marital assets to try to prevent you from getting your fair share. It is possible to recover dissipated assets, but doing so is not always easy.

Also, the Illinois spousal maintenance formula uses the time of filing to calculate the duration of payments. A court will multiply the length of a marriage by other variables to determine the length of maintenance awards. Therefore, if you wait longer to file, the spouse responsible for paying alimony will have to do so for longer. Depending on which end of the relationship you are on, this may or may not benefit you.

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