When going through a divorce in Illinois, it is possible for several different problems to arise. While it is also possible to avoid (or overcome) these problems by taking an informed approach to the divorce process, many spouses—and particularly those without legal representation—lack the insights they need to make informed decisions.

What are some of the problems you will want to avoid during your divorce? Here are 10 common examples:

10 Problems That Can Arise During a Divorce in Illinois

1. Overlooking Marital Assets

Divorcing spouses must divide their marital assets. “Marital” assets generally include funds and property acquired during the marriage, while funds and property owned prior to the marriage are classified as “separate” (and not subject to division)—with some exceptions.

When going through the divorce process, spouses must identify all marital assets that are subject to division. Overlooking marital assets can lead to problems down the line. Some of the most commonly overlooked marital assets include:

  • 401(k)s, IRAs, and pensions
  • Cryptocurrency wallets
  • Digital video and music libraries
  • Investment Accounts
  • Items in storage
  • Pets

2. Incorrectly Identifying Marital Assets as Separate Property

Another common problem involves incorrectly identifying marital assets as separate property (or vice versa). In Illinois, all marital assets are subject to equitable distribution—meaning that they must be divided in a fair, though not necessarily equal, manner. Incorrectly identifying assets as marital or separate can lead to an inequitable distribution, and this can potentially have long-term negative impacts for spouses who receive less than their fair share.

3. Disagreeing About the Value of Marital Assets

When dividing marital assets, spouses can also encounter problems related to the valuation of their property. For example, if one spouse thinks their home is worth $400,000 while the other thinks it is worth $500,000, this is a significant difference, and applying one value or the other could have a significant impact on the equitable distribution calculus. In this scenario, divorcing spouses can engage a neutral third-party valuation expert to provide an unbiased opinion.  

4. Both Wanting to Keep Certain Marital Assets

Perhaps the single most-common problem that arises during the divorce process is both spouses wanting to keep the same marital assets. While some assets can be divided relatively easily (i.e., divorcing spouses can divide a non-retirement joint investment account into two separate accounts), with others this simply isn’t possible—unless the spouses can agree to sell the asset and split the proceeds.

In some circumstances, the resolution may be fairly straightforward. For example, if both spouses want to keep a family photo album, they can simply agree to make a copy. But, with other types of assets, resolving spouses’ differences can be more complicated. If both spouses want to remain in the family home, for example, they will need to work with their respective attorneys—and perhaps with a mediator—to find a way to come to terms.

5. Dealing with Hidden Assets or Income

Some spouses will also find themselves dealing with hidden assets or income. At the beginning of the divorce process, both spouses are legally required to disclose their assets and income sources. But, not all spouses follow the law. If you believe that your spouse is hiding assets or income, you have options available, and your divorce lawyer can help make sure you have a comprehensive picture of everything that is on the table in your divorce.

6. Disagreeing About the Children’s Best Interests

Switching gears, divorcing spouses can run into problems when dealing with child-related matters as well. This includes disagreeing over what type of parenting plan is in their children’s best interests. Illinois law requires divorcing spouses to establish parenting time based on the state’s “best interests factors,” but spouses will often have very different opinions about how these factors apply to their family’s circumstances.

7. Having Conflicting Goals or Needs Regarding Parenting Time

Even if divorcing spouses generally agree on what type of parenting plan serves their children’s best interests, they can still have conflicting goals or needs. For example, problems often arise when dealing with birthdays, holidays, and vacations. Both parents may have a particular interest in spending particular holidays with their children, or their work obligations may limit when they are able to take time off for special occasions. Ultimately, divorcing parents must be able to develop a mutually agreeable parenting plan that covers all scenarios—or else they will need to ask a judge to decide their parental rights and responsibilities for them.

8. Triggering Tax Liability

Depending on the circumstances involved, dividing marital assets or agreeing to payment of alimony can potentially have state and federal tax implications. When going through the divorce process, spouses should be aware of these potential implications, and they should work with their respective lawyers to avoid triggering unnecessary tax liability.

9. Reaching an Impasse

All conflicts arising during a divorce present the potential for an impasse. It is how spouses (and their lawyers) handle these situations that determines how they ultimately get resolved. When divorcing spouses allow their emotions to take control, this can lead to poor decision-making resulting in unnecessary costs, hostility, and lost time. But, when divorcing spouses approach conflicts rationally and in good faith, this will usually result in the spouses finding an agreeable path forward.

10. Feeling Lost During the Process

Finally, due to the variety of potential issues and the sheer number of important considerations involved, many spouses find themselves feeling lost during the divorce process. When this happens, the key is to keep taking small steps forward—and to rely on the advice of an experienced professional who can help you make smart decisions while remaining focused on the bigger picture.

Learn More in a Free and Confidential Divorce Consultation

If you are considering a divorce and would like to know more about what to expect during the process, we invite you to schedule a free initial consultation. To speak with Gurnee, IL divorce lawyer Deanna J. Bowen in confidence, please call 847-623-4002 or request an appointment online today.