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Illinois divorce lawyersCouples spend months or years dating before they decide to marry. Yet, when it comes to divorce, parties sometimes make rash decisions, opting to end their marriage before fully thinking it through. It is only when they are buried by the grief and cost that regret starts to surface. By then, it may be too late to undo the damage. Do not let this happen to you. Stop and answer these five questions before you file the paperwork for your Illinois divorce. 

1. How Would Life Improve if You Divorced? 

Divorce is not the answer to every solution. Sometimes, couples simply need to reconnect, forgive, or make wants and needs clear to one another. Money issues, which can escalate stress levels and cause couples to argue more often, may simply need to be weathered until they pass. 

In contrast, there are things that cannot be fixed with time, empathy, or patience. Abuse, infidelity, contempt, and irreconcilable differences (i.e. varying views on religion or parenting techniques) are just a few examples. Determine where you fall on the spectrum by considering if life would improve if you divorced, and clarify in what ways it would improve. Making your decision in this way reduces the risk of regret as you move forward with the process. 

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Posted on in Divorce

Wheaton divorce lawyersFrom an attorney’s perspective, divorce is primarily a financial transaction. Yet, for the parties separating, divorce is far more than just a division of assets; it is an emotional endeavor. Grief, an emergence of buried emotions, and even feelings of doubt and regret can surface. 

Some fall into depression at this time. Others experience intense anger. Parties leaving an abusive situation can also suffer from PTSD. In short, it is important to protect one’s mental health during a divorce. The following tips offer a few ideas on how to go about doing this. 

Allow Time for the Grieving Process

As previously mentioned, grief is exceptionally common during divorce. Rather than deny or bury it, allow grief to take its natural course. By avoiding it, you can end up doing yourself for harm than good. 

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Illinois divorce attorneysDivorce requires you to make multiple life-changing decisions. One of the first determinations is deciding when to tell your spouse that you wish to end the marriage. Time it poorly and you could compromise the outcome of your case. Wait too long and your spouse may become resentful, which can make negotiations more difficult. Time it just right using these guidelines. 

When You Anticipate a Simple Divorce 

In a simple divorce, there are very few issues to argue about during proceedings. Marital assets are either clearly defined or minimal. There are no involved children. Issues that cause distrust, such as asset hiding are non-existent. Timing in these divorce cases are less critical than in other situations, but you should still wait to tell your spouse about the divorce until speaking with an attorney. Even the simplest of divorces can become contentious under the right circumstances. Your attorney can help you avoid some of those potential pitfalls before they ever occur, increasing the chances that your case will remain simple. 

When You Feel Distrust Toward Your Spouse 

Asset hiding, lying, and infidelity can erode trust in a marriage. In a divorce, they can become catalysts for highly toxic situations. As such, it is highly recommended that you do not tell your spouse about the divorce until instructed to do so by your lawyer. That may even mean waiting until you have moved out and the paperwork has been filed. 

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DuPage County divorce lawyersDivorce consultations are designed to help you take the next step in your case. They are also meant to ensure you pick the “right” lawyer for the job. Avoid the possibility of an ill-fitting divorce attorney by asking these five questions during your initial divorce consultation. 

#1 - Who Will Work on My Case? 

The person you meet during your consultation may not be the one assigned to your case. Some attorneys work in teams. Others hand off a portion of their cases to a paralegal. Seeing that communication during your case is critical and you will spend months working with this person or team, it is important that you meet everyone involved before proceeding. Determine what role each person plays, know who will be with you during each phase of the divorce process, and ask about each person’s experience and commitments. 

#2 - Do You Have Time for My Case?

Like most people, attorneys can over-commit themselves. If that happens, your simple divorce or low-level case may be pushed to the back. Avoid this situation by asking your attorney if they have any high-profile cases on their docket. That way you know, upfront, whether he or she can provide you with the time and commitment that your case deserves. 

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Illinois divorce lawyersOut of all the assets that a couple owns, the house tends to be the most valuable. It only makes sense for parties to struggle when deciding what to do with it while going through a divorce. Its ability to cause contention between the parties is also understandable, yet arguments can cloud judgment. Stop fighting and start considering the pros and cons of selling your home in a divorce, which are outlined in this post. 

Reasons to Sell Your Home in a Divorce (and the Potential Benefits)

A house is more than just a building. It is full of family memories. It is, perhaps, where you raised your children. It is your home, and possibly the only connection you have to a happier time. As such, discussions about selling it may be triggering for either you or your spouse, yet there are many situations in which this might be the most beneficial route. 

It may be the only asset of value in your marriage, which means it may be the only way to ensure you have the money to start over. The cost of maintaining it (mortgage, maintenance, HOA fees, etc.) may be too much of a burden for either you or your spouse to bear. Selling it could allow you to pay off the mortgage and still have a little bit of money left over. 

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Wheaton divorce lawyersThe division of assets can be one of the biggest sources of contention in an Illinois divorce. Part of the reasoning for this can be attributed to the term “equitable distribution,” which essentially means that each party is entitled to their “fair share” of the marital estate. What is your fair share, and how can you ensure you get it during your divorce? The following explains. 

Determining Your “Fair Share” in an Illinois Divorce 

Nothing in life is fair - especially not divorce. Yet, this is the terms that courts use when dividing assets in an Illinois divorce. What might your fair share look like? A few factors are used in reaching this determination, including: 

  • The overall value of your marital estate;
  • Your capacity to earn an income;
  • Your spouse’s capacity to earn an income;
  • Any involved children (and their needs);
  • Non-marital assets that may improve your living standard;
  • Which assets may be held by either party after the divorce; and
  • Any limitations that may hinder a party’s ability to earn a living. 

Essentially, the courts want to do what they can to ensure that you and your spouse are nearly equal in assets and income, once the divorce has ended. Achieving this lofty goal can be quite difficult, however, especially if there are hidden assets or deceptive practices involved. 

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Wheaton divorce attorneysDivorce has become so commonplace that there are now “trending” issues. One of the most recent examples is the destination divorce, in which couples travel to a remote location to celebrate the end of their marriage. Is this an option you should consider once your divorce is complete, or is the hype more appealing than the actuality of such a celebration? 

What is a Destination Divorce?

Unlike a destination wedding, the actual proceedings do not occur at your locale of choice. Most of this is due to the laws, which tend to require that you reside in the state and county where you file for divorce. Instead, a destination divorce is simply a celebration or relaxation retreat - a place you go to visit and celebrate your newfound freedom. 

Where Do People Go? 

While destination divorce locations are about as varied as the people involved in the proceedings, some places are more common than others. At the top of the list is Las Vegas, which has morphed from your typical bachelor and bachelorette party locale to a place where almost anyone can find fun. International locales are also highly popular, particularly for those that felt limited in their marriage. Relaxing retreat locations (i.e. Hawaii, the Bahamas, etc.) are also exceptionally commonly seen in the destination divorce trend. 

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Illinois divorce attorneysDivorce can be a tumultuous process, full of pain, grief, and anger. When paired with the sensitive topic matters often seen in a divorce (i.e. the division of assets and parenting plans), proceedings can become explosive. Yet, in many cases, communication with your spouse is necessary (particularly when there are children involved). The following tips, along with assistance from a seasoned divorce attorney, can help to improve the situation. 

Use Technology to Communicate with Your Spouse

Communication may be necessary during a divorce, but you do not have to speak with your spouse face-to-face. You can opt to use technology instead. Email, text, and even phone applications allow you to discuss pertinent matters, such as child pick-up and drop-off schedules with little to no contact. These measures can do more than just reduce stress; they can give you the chance to carefully examine your statements before sending them. Read over everything, or ask someone that you trust to examine your text or email to reduce the chance of a miscommunication, and always stick to the matter at hand. 

Practice Self-Care and Seek Professional Help When Necessary

Self-care may not seem like an aspect of communication, but when you are stressed or hurt, your emotions can bubble to the surface, even when you do not intend for them to do so. Self-care and skilled assistance from a therapist, support group, or psychologist can help you keep your feelings under wraps so that they do not further complicate your divorce. 

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Wheaton divorce attorneysCouples usually anticipate a division and distribution of their assets during the divorce process, but many are surprised to learn that their debts are also split during the proceedings. Unfortunately, when parties are not prepared for the allocation of their debts, it can create serious financial issues, both immediately and in the distant future. Learn how you can avoid such an issue during your Illinois divorce, and discover how our seasoned attorneys can help. 

Who Owns the Debt in an Illinois Divorce? 

In marriage, debts and assets can become intrinsically intertwined; untangling them can be difficult, to say the least. Yet, it is critical that divorcing parties have a clear understanding of their debts. Additionally, parties are encouraged to try and distinguish which debts were initiated by them or their spouse, and which were co-marital debts. 

Not sure how to decide? 

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Wheaton divorce attorneysDivorce is a highly complex process with several moving parts, and the cost of a mistake can be devastating. Because of this, it is highly recommended that all parties seek the guidance and assistance of a seasoned legal attorney during their divorce case. 

Having legal assistance during divorce does not eliminate the need to understand the steps of divorce, however. In fact, those who are informed about the process tend to fare better in their cases. This is partly due to their ability to make sound decisions throughout the process. Learn more in the following sections, and discover how our skilled attorneys can help.

Preparation and Determining if You Qualify 

One of the most critical steps in an Illinois divorce is preparation - and determining if you even qualify. In these moments, you will find an attorney to represent you, gather financial documents, and perhaps even create a post-divorce budget to help you achieve your financial goals. 

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Illinois parenting time attorneysWith more parents speaking out about the benefits of 50-50 shared parenting, and more studies indicating their benefits, the popularity of such plans are increasing. Of course, like most things, there are some challenges to drafting such a parenting plan - especially if you are used to being around your child all of the time or have doubts about the other parent’s ability to handle the child. Discover how to overcome such challenges in your parenting time case, and how our seasoned family law attorneys can assist you with the process. 

Pursue an Amicable Divorce or Separation

Relationships that end in explosion might make for great fiction, but in real life, these endings have real consequences - especially when there are children involved. Studies have shown that it is not necessarily the end of the relationship that negatively influences children. Instead, they say it is the amount of conflict they experience between their parents on a daily basis. That means two very important things:

  • Staying in a toxic relationship is highly unlikely to benefit your child. Instead, it is far more likely to do them harm, and
  • An amicable split to your relationship is far less likely to have a negative impact on your child than a toxic one.

Focus on Your Child’s Needs and Best Interests

Parents are only human, and divorce and break-ups are often painful, which can cause emotions to run high. As a result, the parent may struggle to separate their own feelings about the end of the relationship from what the child truly needs - which is often a healthy, connected relationship with both of their parents. 

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DuPage County divorce attorneysLoving parents will do almost anything to ensure their children feel happy and safe. Sadly, not even the best efforts can save some marriages - and when a child’s parents go through a divorce, they are bound to be impacted. Thankfully, there are many strategies that a parent can employ to minimize the negative effects of a divorce. Next to pursuing an amicable separation, validating the child’s feelings is one of the most effective and critical. 

Why Validation Works

Everyone experiences feelings of anger, sadness, and grief; children are no exception. However, children do not always know how to verbalize their feelings. Because of this, their feelings may come out in the form of negative or undesirable behaviors. Examples can include meltdowns or temper tantrums, separation anxiety, withdrawal from family and friends, poor academic performance, and extreme sensitivity. 

Validation may not remedy all of these issues, but it can certainly go a long way to helping a child heal during and after a divorce. It allows them to feel as though they have a voice, and that their feelings are important. That can be critical for a child who feels like every decision is out of their control. Even better is when a parent can help their child identify their feelings and learn how to put them into words. 

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Wheaton divorce attorneysGoing through a divorce is widely considered to be one of the most painful and difficult experiences that one can go through. In fact, many psychologists and grief counselors have compared the trauma of divorce to that of suddenly losing a close loved one (in terms of the emotional pain that it can cause). With this in mind, a growing number of people are seeking help during and after a divorce to help them to adjust in a healthy way. 

Two of the most common options for coping with a divorce are support groups and professional therapy. Determining which one is right for you will help to ensure you are receiving the best possible assistance.

Are Support Groups Right for You?

Support groups are typically comprised of people who are all going through (or have gone through) a similarly difficult event, such as divorce. While there may be someone who is in charge of the group to help keep things progressing properly, the actual support and advice will come from everyone in the group. 

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DuPage County divorce attorneysThe decision to divorce is a highly personal one - and far from simple. There might be years of happy memories that are difficult to let go of, despite how difficult things have been lately. Perhaps there are children involved, and like most parents, you are worried about how a divorce might affect them. Add in any number of the other possible variables that occur in a divorce (domestic abuse, financial disadvantages, disability, etc.), and divorce may no longer seem like an option. For others, staying in an unhappy or toxic situation might begin to seem preferable to the complex and often lengthy process of a divorce. 

Thankfully, neither scenario needs to occur, as there are options for even the most difficult situations. Of course, before one can actively seek out solutions for their situation, they must first come to terms with it. Look for these five signs in your marriage. If you have noticed any of them, it may be time to decide if divorce could be the next best step in your life. 

1. Your Partner Refuses to Seek Treatment

Relationships of all types can fail, but those that involve addiction, abuse, mental health issues, or severe illness tend to have a much higher rate of failure. Sadly, if your spouse refuses to seek treatment for any of these issues, your risk of divorce increases even further. The reasoning for this is simple: one can only live inside a toxic situation for so long. Either you leave the relationship or things or accept that things may get worse - possibly to the point of implosion. 

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Illinois divorce mediation lawyersDivorce mediation has quickly become a popular way for parties to divorce - and not just because it offers a more cost-effective way to dissolve a marriage. Mediation also encourages cooperation and compromise between the divorcing parties, which can help to improve the overall outcome for divorcing parents, older divorcing couples splitting a retirement, and couples with a high net worth marriage. Still, divorcing parties often feel more at ease when they know what to expect from the divorce mediation process. Learn more in the following sections, which address some of the most frequently asked questions about divorce mediation in Illinois. 

What is Divorce Mediation? 

Before mediation, divorcing parties were pitted against one another and placed on opposite sides in court litigation. Sadly, this led to many poor outcomes, especially for children. Mediation works differently. It encourages the parties to compromise and come to an agreement that works for all involved parties (parents, children, and even pets). Parties who successfully reach an agreement can avoid court proceedings altogether, but if an agreement cannot be made, the parties may still address their issues in court and allow a judge to decide on the matters that are pertinent or problematic in their divorce. 

Are There Any Benefits to Choosing Mediation Over Litigation?

Mediation is often chosen by divorcing couples because it offers them a way to end their marriage faster, and more amicably. As a result, they are better able to preserve their wealth. Children are also less likely to suffer maladjustment when their parents go through a divorce, especially when parents strive for amicable proceedings and an agreement that allows the child ample time and support from each of their parents. Agreements can also be more flexible for those that go through mediation. Parents, retiring divorcees, and even high net worth individuals often find this to be a benefit in their Illinois divorce cases. 

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Illinois divorce lawyersDivorce can be expensive in any state or situation, but the complexity, exact circumstances, and exact location of a divorce are all significant factors in determining the final price. In respect to location, one study recently determined which 10 states were the most expensive when it came to divorce costs.

Illinois, though not found on that list, has seen some high-profile divorce cases over the years. It also regularly processes simple divorce cases, where there are few assets and no children. How might these additional factors impact the cost of your Illinois divorce, and how can you avoid excessive fees and expenses during your case? The following explains. 

In Respect to Divorce Costs, Complexity Usually Trumps Location 

Location can be important in determining the overall cost of a divorce, but a better price indicator is the complexity of the case. Still, it is important to remember that even complex issues can be mitigated against. For example, high net worth divorces can be extremely costly, but parties can often save a significant amount of money if they divorce amicably and settle quickly. Cases involving children can become extremely complex, resulting in costly legal fees, or they can be peacefully negotiated. Interestingly enough, such methods are often child-focused, which can help to ensure the child’s best interest and bond with each parent are preserved. 

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DuPage County divorce lawyersDivorce is not a decision that comes easily. In fact, most people spend months, sometimes even years contemplating whether divorce is the next best step in their life. Regardless of where they are in the decision-making process, it is important that parties take immediate steps to protect their wealth and future well-being. At worst, the divorce never happens and they gain a better understanding of their finances and emotional health. At best, they are prepared and well-situated for the road ahead, which can increase the chances of a favorable outcome in their Illinois divorce. 

Start Paying Attention to Your Finances 

Although many couples share a bank account, credit card, and other debts, not everyone is aware of their family’s finances. For example, you may know about how much you and your spouse earn each month, but are you up-to-date on the amount in your spouse’s retirement account? Are there any undisclosed debts that your spouse may not have discussed with you? Do you know what monthly bills are associated with the home, and which are personal expenditures? What is the worth of any businesses, stocks, bonds, or real estate held in either your name or your spouse’s? 

These details, and many others, are necessary to know - not just during the divorce process, but also as you plan and prepare for your life after a divorce. Monitor this information. Track expenses and obtain copies of any financial documents you can find. Store them in a safe and secure place until you meet with an attorney, and above all else, do not let your spouse know you are preparing for the divorce process. Otherwise, money or important financial information could start to disappear. Should this occur, the overall cost of your divorce could significantly increase. 

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DuPage County divorce lawyersWhen the clear and inevitable path for a marriage becomes a divorce, the parties are encouraged to carefully contemplate their next steps, as many of the impending decision impact the direction, dynamics, and outcome of the case. As an example, one might consider both the positive and negative consequences of being the first one to file for divorce. By doing this, parties can decide whether they should take swift action and file right away, or if they should or can wait to file (knowing that their spouse may file first) because it is a better strategy for their unique situation. 

The Pros and Cons of Being the First to File for an Illinois Divorce

Filing first for a divorce can lead to both positive and negative consequences for the deciding party. By weighing them out, cognitively, and not allowing yourself to be emotionally-driving in your decisions, you can take a major step toward improving the outcome of your case. 

The Pros of Filing First - Filing for the divorce first means having the time to carefully select your divorce team. By filing first, you also give yourself more time to gather all the documents you need, perhaps with an added bonus: a decreased risk of hidden assets or missing financial paperwork.

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Illinois divorce lawyersIntuition can be a wonderful thing; it can be what encourages you to complete a project sooner than its due date, only to learn that you wrote down the date incorrectly but still had it done on time, or it could be the reason you end up having a much-needed item at exactly the right moment. Intuition can also feel like a bit of a curse sometimes - like when that tiny voice in your head is trying to tell you that your spouse is contemplating a divorce. If you have that nagging feeling, the following five signs can tell you whether your intuition may be correct. You shall also learn how to prepare for an Illinois divorce, should you or your spouse decide to file for one in the immediate future. 

Five Clues That Indicate Your Spouse May be Planning a Divorce 

Although there are many behaviors and actions that can indicate a divorce may be on the horizon, five specific clues are almost always present in impending cases. These include: 

1. Your spouse suddenly becomes more protective over their finances. Perhaps they have cut off your access to an online account or have started hiding their pay stubs or invoices. Maybe they have removed you as an authorized user on their credit card, or they simply avoid money conversations altogether now. Perhaps it is nothing more than a distinct difference in how they behave during money-related conversations. Whatever the situation, you feel as though something feels “off” when you try to discuss the family finances with them; 

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Illinois divorce attorneysMoney is one of the leading stressors in a marriage, which also makes it one of the leading causes of divorce in the United States. It is not necessarily a lack of money that leads to a divorce, however. In fact, statistics show that divorce rates actually rise during periods of economic growth instead of declining, which suggests that a couple’s relationship with money (and how it ultimately affects their relationship with each other), is more of an influential factor in their risk of divorce than the balance of their bank account. 

How Wealth Can Increase One’s Risk of a Divorce

Wealth is often seen as the answer to all money problems, but the upper-middle-class and barely wealthy can prove this simply is not the case. They can experience the same issues that lead to financial strain for lower-income families - the ever-increasing cost of living, child tuition costs, student loan debts, expected lifestyle, social pressures, etc. - and they can just as easily over-expend. If the financial strain becomes bad enough, the marriage may start to crumble. Fears over losing one’s status, feelings of guilt or remorse for the poor choices that one made during the couple’s downfall, and casting blame at the other party can further exacerbate matters. If left to fester, or if financial strain worsens, a divorce may ultimately ensue. 

Protecting Your Assets in a Failing Marriage 

When a marriage begins to fail, it is important that you take critical steps to protect any remaining assets from creditors, and even one’s own spouse. Asset hiding and dissipation are extremely common in divorces among the wealthy, and even more likely to occur in divorces that involve: 

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