According to a recent study, divorce filings peak twice annually. They peak at the end of summer when the kids are going back to school and parents have more time to devote to the process, and they peak shortly after the New Year.

The study offered a couple of possible explanations for the increase in divorce filings from February into March. First, similar to waiting out summer break, some spouses may decide to “get through” the holiday season before initiating the divorce process. Second, some spouses may view the holidays as a last-ditch opportunity to try to rekindle their relationship and resolve the issues that have caused them to decide to pursue a divorce.

Are You Thinking About Filing for Divorce in the New Year?

Regardless of your reasoning, if you are preparing to file for divorce in 2020, there are some important facts you need to know. There are also some important steps you need to take to prepare, which is why divorce filings peak in February and March rather than right at the start of the year. Here are our top seven tips for spouses who are considering filing for divorce in 2020:

Tip #1: Start Preparing for Your Divorce Now

There are several issues you need to consider before you file for divorce; and, in order to make informed decisions about each of these issues, you need to have complete and accurate information. We have put together a checklist for spouses who are contemplating divorce in Illinois. Our checklist covers gathering information about your finances, property, and children; it provides links to articles about common mistakes and using social media; and, it provides prompts for thinking about the long-term implications of getting divorced.

Tip #2: Understand the Myths and Realities of Getting Divorced

In addition to gathering information and considering various issues that are specific to you and your family, it is also important to have a clear understanding of what is true (and what isn’t) when it comes to going through the divorce process in Illinois. This means not only learning about the realities of divorce but understanding which commonly-held beliefs are myths about divorce as well.

Tip #3: Weigh Your Options

You have lots of options when you get divorced in Illinois, and this is true for nearly all aspects of the process. From the way in which you get divorced (i.e. whether you will be able to pursue an agreed divorce or need to rely on collaborative law or mediation) to how you divide your marital property, you will have to make important decisions at virtually every step along the way. Of course, these decisions are not entirely up to you – your spouse will necessarily be involved in the process as well. But, by weighing your options now, you can prepare yourself to move forward with confidence when the time comes.

Tip #4: Don’t Forget About Your Pets

If your home is among the roughly two-thirds of American households with pets, you will need to address the ownership of your pets during your divorce as well. For legal purposes, pets are considered property (not family members), so your pets will technically come into play during the property division stage of your divorce.

Of course, as a pet owner, your animals are more than just pieces of property. Illinois’s divorce laws acknowledge this, and they include provisions for ensuring the well being of “companion animals” after a couple’s divorce. This requires divorcing spouses to consider a number of different factors, and decisions regarding pet ownership should ultimately be made with the pet’s best interests in mind.

Tip #5: Set Reasonable Expectations

Getting divorced in Illinois inherently involves compromise. Neither spouse will get everything he or she wants; and, in fact, there is a very good chance that both spouses will be forced to part with things they hold dear. Whether this means leaving the family home or missing out on spending time with their children, getting divorced inherently means splitting one household and one family into two.

There are other factors that divorcing spouses need to consider when it comes to setting reasonable expectations as well. For example, if you are seeking a divorce because your spouse cheated on you, this might not have the consequences you expect. Understanding what you can reasonably expect is important; and, once again, this means learning as much about the divorce process as you can.

Tip #6: Be Prepared for the Process to Take Time

Along these same lines, when preparing to go through a divorce, it is also important to be prepared for the process to take time. Even if you and your spouse are generally on the same page, and even if you are both willing to work together to overcome any differences that may arise, it could still take several months to work through all of the various issues involved in bringing your marriage to an end.

Many spouses are initially disappointed when they learn that they can’t end their marriages and move on with their lives right away. However, once they understand all that is involved, once they focus on protecting themselves long-term, and once they appreciate that there is more to getting divorced than signing a few papers or filling out a few forms online, most spouses fully commit themselves to doing what is necessary to serve their best interests and those of their children.

Tip #7: Don’t Go at It Alone

Finally, when going through a divorce, it is important not to go at it alone. The process is stressful, and making informed decisions requires the advice of experienced professionals. Rely on your social support structure, talk to your accountant or financial advisor, and speak with a Lake County, IL divorce attorney to make sure your divorce does not create any unnecessary strain – now or in the future.

Schedule a Free Divorce Consultation with Gurnee and Lake County, IL

Are you thinking about filing for divorce in 2020? To learn more about what to expect and what you can start doing now to prepare, contact us for a free initial consultation. Call 847-623-4002 to schedule an appointment with Gurnee, IL divorce lawyer Deanna J. Bowen.