When going through a divorce, knowing what to expect is important. While you want to make sure you set reasonable expectations, you also do not want to set your expectations too low. If you do, you might overlook opportunities to achieve desirable outcomes, which means that you might ultimately settle for less than you deserve.
So, what can you expect from your divorce in Illinois? Here’s what you need to know:
What to Expect: a Structured and Organized Process
Getting divorced is a process, and you can expect the process to be both structured and organized. Your divorce lawyer will be able to guide you every step of the way, explaining what comes next and helping you plan accordingly.
The specific structure will depend on how you and your spouse choose to pursue your divorce. Negotiating, meditating, and going to court are three very different mechanisms for reaching a final outcome. Each offers benefits under the right circumstances, and your lawyer can help you decide which path to pursue.
What NOT to Expect: An “Easy” Process Without Stumbling Blocks or Difficult Questions
While you can expect a clear roadmap, you cannot expect the road to be free from hazards. Issues will inevitably arise, and how you and your spouse choose to address these issues could significantly impact both the process and the outcome of your divorce.
What to Expect: A Fair Outcome that Takes Into Account Your Family and Financial Circumstances
The four main components of a divorce – property division, child custody, child support, and spousal support – are all subject to different standards. For example, while Illinois’ “equitable distribution” rule governs property division, divorcing spouses must establish a custody plan that reflects their children’s “best interests.” However, while the standards may be different, they are all designed to facilitate a fair outcome in light of the specific circumstances at hand.
What NOT to Expect: That You Will Receive Exactly Half of Everything that is On the Table
There is a common misconception that each spouse is entitled to half of everything. This is not the case in Illinois. To achieve a desirable outcome in your divorce, you will need to assert your legal rights effectively based on the relevant provisions of Illinois law.
What to Expect: Good-Faith Efforts to Equitably Resolve the Terms of Your Divorce
During a divorce, each spouse should participate in the process in good faith. This is true whether you are working on negotiating a settlement agreement, you are trying to resolve differences in mediation, or you are seeking a resolution in court.
As mentioned above, this does not necessarily mean that both spouses should be willing to agree to a 50-50 split. In fact, there are only limited circumstances in which a 50-50 is appropriate. However, it does mean that you and your spouse should be forthcoming with pertinent information as required by law, and you should both be willing to consider reasonable options for structuring the terms of your divorce.
What NOT to Expect: That You and Your (Soon to Be Former) Spouse Will Agree on Everything
Even if you and your spouse agree that it is time to get divorced, you should not expect to agree on everything. Some disagreements are inevitable, as you will both be making decisions with your own respective best interests in mind. In addition, several issues commonly get overlooked, and you will need to be sure that you and your spouse address all issues that are relevant to your divorce.
What to Expect: Personalized and Custom-Tailored Legal Advice from Your Attorney
When getting divorced, it is important to rely on the advice of an experienced divorce attorney. Your attorney works for you, and you can expect your attorney to provide advice with your best interests in mind.
You can also expect your attorney to provide advice that takes into account your personal circumstances. No two situations are exactly alike, and your attorney will need to help you make informed decisions based on your desires, preferences, and needs.
What NOT to Expect: That You and Your Spouse Will Be Able to Hire One Lawyer
Another common misconception about the divorce process is that spouses can hire one lawyer if they are willing to work together. While this is technically possible in some limited circumstances, it is almost always inadvisable.
Why? Because as we mentioned above, you need advice that is tailored to your personal circumstances and focuses on protecting your best interests. If a lawyer is trying to represent both of you, he or she will not be able to provide the same advice that you would obtain from your own attorney.
What to Expect: A Fair Outcome that Reflects Your (and Your Spouse’s) Rights Under Illinois Law
Regardless of the circumstances involved, divorce should always lead to a fair outcome. If you hire an experienced divorce attorney to represent you, you can expect the outcome of your divorce to reflect your rights under Illinois law.
What NOT to Expect: That Either You or Your Spouse Will “Win” Your Divorce
Given that Illinois’ divorce laws are designed to produce fair outcomes, you should not expect either you or your spouse to “win.” Even if your divorce ends up in court, the judge will be making decisions based on what is fair in light of the unique circumstances presented. If you focus on adequately protecting your interests rather than trying to “win,” the process will almost certainly be more efficient, and you can move on from your marriage feeling confident in the outcome of your divorce.
Schedule a Free Initial Consultation with Gurnee, IL Divorce Lawyer Deanna J. Bowen
Are you contemplating a divorce? If so, we encourage you to get in touch. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with Gurnee and Lake County, IL divorce lawyer Deanna J. Bowen, please call 847-623-4002 or contact us online today.