For many people, the end of one year and the start of another is a time for reflection. For some, reflecting on the past and looking toward the future leads to questions about whether it is time to bring their marriage to an end. If things haven’t been working at home, the New Year might be the time for a fresh start, and this might mean filing for divorce.

5 Important Considerations for Spouses Who are Thinking about Filing for Divorce in 2021

If you have decided to file for divorce, there are some questions you will want to start considering, and there are some steps that you can start taking now to prepare. With this in mind, here are five important considerations for spouses in Illinois who are thinking about filing for divorce in 2021:

1. Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, It Could Take Longer Than Usual to Finalize Your Divorce

The COVID-19 pandemic forced widespread closures in the Illinois court system; and, even as of December 2020, the Illinois Courts’ website states that, “[m]any Illinois courts are open for emergencies only.”

When going through a divorce, it is often possible to handle much of the process without going to court. In fact, if you and your spouse are on good terms (or even on reasonably good terms), you may be able to handle almost your entire divorce without going to court—with the one major exception being the final step of obtaining a formal divorce decree.

Given the effects of the pandemic, it is possible that this final step could be delayed (although, as reported by ABC 7, some Illinois courts are handling divorce proceedings virtually). Additionally, if you need to ask a judge to resolve any issues during the divorce process, this could result in delays as well. Once a vaccine is widely available in Illinois, this should become less of a concern, but at this point we still don’t know exactly when that will happen.

2. You Will Need Time and Space for Privacy

During the pandemic, many couples have been spending much more time at home than usual. However, when preparing for (and going through) a divorce, it is important to have time and space for privacy.

Specifically, you will need time to consult with your attorney without your spouse present, and you will need to be able to review papers and think about your options in private. You will also need a place where you can safely store files without worrying that your spouse might look through them. If you and your spouse are on good terms, you may be able to work out a plan; but, if you need help figuring out how to approach your divorce while still spending lots of time in close quarters with your spouse, an attorney can help you evaluate the options you have available.

3. You Can Handle Much (if Not All) of Your Divorce Remotely

Depending on the extent to which your divorce involves the courts, you will likely be able to handle much (if not all) of your divorce remotely. You can meet with your lawyer over the phone or via videoconference, you can sign documents electronically and exchange files with your lawyer via email, and you might be able to attend any necessary court proceedings virtually as well.

As a result, if you are thinking about filing for divorce, you should not delay filing solely due to the practical implications of going through the process during the COVID-19 pandemic. At this point, law firms (including ours) have been representing clients remotely for months, and it has become routine to meet with clients virtually. Your personal information will still be kept completely confidential; and, on the upside, you can meet with your lawyer from the comfort of your own home.

4.  There Are Many Important Questions You Will Need to Answer

Moving past considerations related to the COVID-19 pandemic, as you begin thinking about your divorce, there are several important questions you will need to consider. There are four primary aspects to a divorce (only two if you do not have children), but each of these aspects entails numerous issues that each require individualized attention. For an overview of some of the issues you will need to address, you can read:

5. There Are Steps You Can Start Taking Now to Prepare for Your Divorce

In addition to beginning to weigh your options and identify your priorities, there are other steps you can take to begin preparing for your divorce as well. Even if you are not planning to file for divorce until sometime later in 2021, getting started now can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed, and it will also allow you to identify any issues (i.e. locating certain types of financial records) that might take longer than you are currently expecting.

We have prepared a checklist that you can use to guide your efforts, and we have also prepared a list of questions that we encourage you to consider as you begin your divorce preparations. If you are thinking about filing for divorce in Illinois in 2021, these resources will help you get started:

Schedule a Free and Confidential Consultation with Gurnee, IL Divorce Attorney Deanna J. Bowen

Do you have questions about filing for divorce in 2021? If so, we encourage you to contact us for a free and confidential consultation. To schedule an appointment with Gurnee and Lake County, Illinois, divorce attorney Deanna Bowen, please call 847-623-4002 or contact us online today.