Preparing for your Illinois Divorce
Perhaps you did not see a divorce coming. Perhaps you missed all the red flags, and attributed the lack of communication, intimacy problems, and petty arguments over finances to work-related stress. Perhaps you were completely blindsided by the possibility of a divorce.
Coming to terms with a pending divorce is an extremely emotional endeavor, but it's best to start preparing for reality as soon as possible. Your first line of defense should be to schedule an initial consultation with an experienced Illinois divorce attorney.
Before your first appointment, run through the following checklist to calm divorce discussion jitters and to help ensure a level playing field in the future:
Emotions and Finances
Just like old team rivalries, dealing with the finances in a divorce can be rough. When it comes to discussing pre and post-divorce financials, don't let your emotions get in the way, instead let the numbers calculate the outcome. Your attorney should be able to thoroughly analyze you and your spouse's financials and advise as to what the numbers show and how you can obtain the best financial outcome.
Copy all financial records in you and your spouse's possession, including mortgage, bank and retirement statements as well as tax returns. Look up account information online and print updated statements and summaries. If a document is financial in nature, make a copy. It will most likely come into play at a later date, and your family law attorney can help you sort through all of the paperwork.
Document and tally all of the monthly expenses, and print and save this report. This step sidelines any misconception as to what the bottom line actually is, and gives your attorney a jump start in advising you as to the best course of action for you.
Even if your spouse has decided to trade the family home for an apartment, the bills have not followed him or her and are likely still coming in as usual. A pre-settlement game plan will help prevent a disruption of on-time payments of all monthly household expenses in the interim, which can help avoid contention and arguments over debt (not to mention this can also help preserve your credit).
Take inventory of all financial and tangible assets. By producing an inventory, you will have time to table your emotions when division of marital property comes into play. Research fair market or appraisal values of substantial assets as well, which will also help in determining the equitable division of assets.
Review and document all income brought in by you and your spouse. If you have minor children, this will be beneficial when calculating child support. If you currently do not work outside the home, conduct a brief calculation of your potential earning capability.
Pull a Credit Report
This is essential when discussing outstanding issues and to minimize any trick plays later in negotiations. There are several ways to obtain a free credit report online, and there are even smart phone apps that can help you track your credit, though you should talk to your accountant or financial advisor to learn more.
Kids Come First
Although last on this checklist, if you have children, they remain the star players of your post-marital team. Keep the entire playing field in perspective by setting both short and long-term goals. Make sure you discuss your goals and wishes for your kids and their future at your initial consultation.
You may not have been prepared when your spouse stated that he or she was filing for divorce, and it's likely that emotions are running high right now. But preparing yourself early on, and facing reality head-on, can be a game changer in the divorce process.
If you reside in the western suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, in DuPage, Kane, Will, or Kendall counties, the experienced family law team at Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC can prove an important defensive team member. With over 100 years of combined legal experience, we will work diligently to ensure a level playing field and help you start off on the right foot early on in your divorce. Take a moment to meet our legal team or contact us at 630-665-7300" target="_blank">630-665-7300 to schedule your initial consultation today.