When preparing to go through a divorce in Illinois, there are several steps you need to take to get ready. There are also several mistakes you need to avoid. Making these mistakes can make the process more difficult than it should be, and, in some cases, these mistakes can potentially harm the outcome of your divorce as well.
So, what should you not do when getting ready to get divorced? In this article, Gurnee, IL divorce lawyer Deanna J. Bowen discusses 10 mistakes to avoid:
1. Assuming You or Your Spouse Will “Win” Your Divorce
Many people believe that a divorce will necessarily have a “winner” and a “loser.” However, while a divorce certainly can have a more positive outcome for one spouse than the other, the process is designed to be fair. Both spouses should be able to protect their legal rights and financial interests equally.
With that said, achieving a fair outcome takes work. You need to prepare, and you need to put in the necessary effort during the process. But, if you do so, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to arrive at a final outcome that fully reflects your rights under Illinois law.
2. Assuming You Will Each Get Half of Everything
While you shouldn’t assume that you or your spouse will “win” your divorce, you also shouldn’t assume that you will each get half of everything. While this is a possibility, the divorce process in Illinois focuses on equitability rather than equality.
In some cases, a 50-50 split of marital property will be equitable. In others, it won’t. What is fair in any particular divorce will depend on the specific facts and circumstances involved.
3. Assuming You Can Handle the Process on Your Own
Some spouses have an interest in trying to handle the divorce process on their own. Legally speaking, this is a possibility (you aren’t required to hire an attorney), and there is no shortage of “DIY divorce kits” online.
But, trying to handle your divorce on your own is a mistake. There is simply no other way to put it. There are too many issues involved – and there is too much at stake – not to get help from an experienced divorce attorney.
4. Overlooking Assets that are Subject to Equitable Distribution
When going through a divorce, the goal is to arrive at a final outcome that fully addresses all issues that require a resolution. Overlooking issues can lead to problems down the line. One of the most common issues we see is that divorcing spouses will overlook assets subject to equitable distribution.
If you overlook a marital asset during your divorce, who owns it post-divorce? This isn’t an easy question to answer. Fortunately, it is a relatively easy question to avoid—as long as you put in the effort upfront.
5. Mischaracterizing Separate Assets as Marital Property
Illinois law distinguishes between “separate” and “marital” property. If you own separate assets (which you most likely do), these assets are not subject to distribution in your divorce. But, if you mischaracterize your separate assets as marital assets and they end up getting distributed to your spouse, this can also be a difficult issue to correct once your divorce becomes final.
6. Failing to Prioritize
Prioritization is an important part of the divorce preparation process. Neither spouse gets everything, and divorcing spouses will invariably have conflicting interests concerning certain issues and certain pieces of property.
Recognizing that you will need to make compromises, it is important to start thinking about your priorities. Which marital assets are most important to you? Which assets are you willing to let go of? What are your primary goals concerning child custody? These are all important questions you need to answer.
7. Failing to Consider Your Spouse’s Priorities
As you prepare for your divorce, it is important to consider your spouse’s priorities as well. This will help you make informed decisions, and it will help you decide how best to approach issues when they arise. For example, will your spouse want to remain in the family home? Or, will they be more concerned with protecting other assets (such as a retirement account or pension)? By thinking ahead and anticipating potential areas of disagreement, you can make sure you are as prepared as possible to pursue an efficient and amicable resolution.
8. Overlooking Options for Resolving Difficult Issues
Speaking of pursuing efficient and amicable resolutions, as you prepare for your divorce, you should also be sure to consider all of your options for resolving difficult issues. Informal negotiations and divorce litigation are the two opposite ends of the spectrum, but there are also options in between. Mediation is an effective tool for many divorcing couples, and collaborative law can be useful in many circumstances.
9. Delaying the Process
It is important not to rush into a divorce—especially if you have children. With that said, it is important not to unduly delay the process, either. If you have decided that it is time to bring your marriage to an end, you should discuss your next steps with an attorney sooner rather than later. Getting a divorce takes time, and you will want to get a fresh start as soon as possible. Notably, some studies have also found that staying in an unhappy marriage can be bad for your health.
10. Allowing Yourself to Become Overstressed
Finally, while going through a divorce can be stressful, it is important not to allow yourself to become overstressed. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and there is help available to you. With a proactive approach and a constructive mindset, you can limit the difficulties you encounter during your divorce, and you can set yourself up to get through your divorce as efficiently and amicably as possible.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Lake County, IL Divorce Attorney
If you would like to know more about the divorce process, we encourage you to contact us. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with Lake County, IL divorce attorney Deanna J. Bowen, please call 847-623-4002 or contact us online today.