As a divorce lawyer in Lake County, Illinois our law firm handles many cases in which divorce is often viewed as a contentious process involving spouses who can no longer stand together, this is not the reality for many couples. For many couples, the decision to get divorced is made amicably, and both spouses are willing to work together to end their marriage on mutually-agreeable terms.
Illinois is a “no-fault” divorce state. This means that married couples can choose to get divorced for any reason or no reason at all. Believe it or not, until relatively recently, many states still required proof of “marital fault” to justify a divorce, and some states still require spouses to endure a “waiting period” before they can finalize their divorce. Fortunately, Illinois is not one of these states.
What is Involved in Getting an “Agreed Divorce” in Illinois?
So, if you and your spouse are ready to get divorced and you want to resolve the terms of your divorce amicably, you can absolutely do so. But, this does not necessarily mean that the process will be easy. You and your spouse will need to address several issues, and it will be important for you to work with an experienced Illinois divorce attorney throughout the process.
Here are 10 examples of issues that you and your spouse will need to address (if applicable) during your agreed divorce:
1. The Family Home
Regardless of whether you own or rent your home, you will need to decide who will move as a result of your divorce. If you and your spouse own your family home, you will need to decide who will own the home after your divorce. The same is true of everything inside of your home that qualifies as “marital property.”
2. Bank Accounts
You and your spouse will need to decide how you are going to divide your bank accounts. Illinois law requires divorcing spouses to divide their marital property equitably, and, in most (but not all) cases, this includes all income earned during the marriage by both spouses. If you keep one or more of your existing bank accounts, don’t forget to change your login information and beneficiary designations once your divorce is over.
3. Retirement and Investment Accounts
Generally speaking, retirement and investment accounts need to be handled similarly to bank accounts. However, there are special rules that limit how certain types of retirement accounts can be divided, and there may be valuation issues that you and your spouse need to address as well. If you or your spouse owned a retirement or investment account before you got married, then a portion of the account may qualify as a “separate property” that is not subject to division in your divorce.
4. Digital Assets
What digital assets do you and your spouse own? Increasingly, digital assets are playing a central role in the divorce process. This includes assets such as:
- Online bank and investment accounts
- Cryptocurrency wallets
- Social media profiles
- Photo libraries
- Music, movie, e-book, and game libraries
- Domain names and websites
- Online businesses
While it is fairly common for each spouse to keep his or her own social media accounts and for couples to make duplicate copies of their digital photos, other types of digital assets may require more detailed consideration.
If you and your spouse have a pet (or multiple pets), you will need to decide who will care for your pet (or pets) after your divorce. In Illinois, pets are considered a form of property for divorce purposes. Divorcing spouses must decide who will own – and who will have financial responsibility for – their pets post-divorce.
6. Parenting Time
Shifting away from property-related issues, divorcing parents must also comprehensively address the issue of child custody and visitation (also known as “parenting time”) during the divorce process. Illinois law requires parents to develop parenting time schedules that reflect their children’s best interests. Still, parents who are willing to work together have a significant amount of flexibility to structure parenting time in a way that works for them.
7. Parenting Time Exceptions
In addition to developing a routine parenting schedule, divorcing parents must also proactively address parenting time exceptions. For example, how will you handle the holidays? How will you handle vacations? What will you do if one parent cannot meet his or her normal parenting time obligations due to a work conflict or other factors?
8. Child Support
For parents, calculating child support is also a necessary part of the divorce process. While there are guidelines for calculating child support, each spouse must fully disclose their income to arrive at an accurate child support calculation. Additionally, certain child-related expenses will fall outside of child support, and, in some cases (particularly for high-earning couples), the guidelines will not provide an appropriate solution.
9. Spousal Support
There are four types of alimony in Illinois, and there are numerous factors that go into calculating an appropriate alimony award during an agreed divorce. When dealing with alimony, you and your spouse will want to be sure to address the tax consequences as well.
Finally, if you have a mortgage, car loans, student loans, credit card debt, or any other debts, you and your spouse will need to address these during your divorce as well. Generally speaking, debts are treated similarly to assets for divorce purposes, meaning that “marital debts” must be distributed equitably, while “separate debts” are not subject to distribution.
For more information about preparing for your agreed divorce, we encourage you to read:
- Checklist: Preparing for Your Illinois Divorce
- 6 Realities about Getting Divorced in Illinois
- Getting Divorced in Illinois? Don’t Overlook These Issues During (or After) the Process
Schedule a Free Initial Consultation with Lake County, IL Divorce Attorney Deanna J. Bowen
Do you have questions about moving forward with an agreed divorce? If so, we encourage you to contact us to arrange a free initial consultation. To discuss your agreed divorce with Lake County, IL divorce attorney Deanna J. Bowen in confidence, call 847-623-4002 or request an appointment online today.