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What You Need to Know Before You Get a Divorce

When you are facing the end of your marriage, it can be difficult to think straight. Unfortunately, as emotionally and psychologically stressed as you will surely be at the prospect of ending a relationship you expected to last your entire life, you must put your emotions on the backburner long enough to ensure your divorce is handled properly. This means your first priority should be to find out what you need to know before you get a divorce. As anyone who has gone through a divorce will tell you, if you don’t learn what you need to know before you get a divorce, you could end up paying for it the rest of your life.

Here Is What You Need to Know Before You Get a Divorce

Earlier this month, Forbes featured an article with advice from a man who had gone through the divorce process. He stated at the outset of the article that the advice he was giving was information he wishes he had known before he entered divorce proceedings. Some tips we agree with, which we’ve expanded on below along with more of our own:

  • Don’t let your emotions take over your rational thinking – Divorce and child custody are the most emotional matters that most people experience. A problem with this, however, is that people do not always think clearly when their minds are overwhelmed with feelings. Take care of yourself during your divorce: go to the gym, spend time with friends and family, start seeing a therapist if you are having trouble coping.

  • Know the value of your property – Do not take for granted that you will both agree on the value of shared property, such as your home, cars or a boat. Each spouse should separately complete the court-provided financial statement regarding income and expenses. This will help when it comes time to reach any sort of financial settlement. It will enable both sides to identify early on any major differences in the way the spouses value certain assets, so that they can negotiate a resolution. If necessary, the parties can choose one independent appraiser together and agree to be bound by the appraisal. In some situations, each party obtains their own appraiser, but in addition to being costly, independent valuations can lead to months of delays in completing your divorce, which can be costly as well.

  • Try mediation before litigation – Working with a mediator can be simpler and cheaper than going the litigation route. If possible, discuss mediation as an option with your spouse, because it really can save you both a lot of time, stress and money. Many times, people who come to an agreement in mediation feel better about the subsequent settlement than they would a court order imposed by a judge. For child custody matters, nothing beats an agreement and schedule that parents worked out together in a collaborative fashion. Most child custody matters in Illinois are now required to first go to mediation before heading to a judge to try an issue.

  • Understand that your spouse’s credit may continue to affect you – Your home is often your most valuable asset and highest expense. Making the wrong decision as to how you should distribute the value of your home can have long-term ramifications regarding your financial future. For example, let’s say your spouse wants to keep your house in the divorce and is given three months to refinance the home so that he or she can afford the monthly payments and you can be taken off the mortgage. If your spouse does not obtain the requisite lending during this period, your name could remain on the mortgage. Similar things happen with joint credit cards; always close the joint credit cards while negotiating who is responsible to pay it. Never keep joint bank accounts, credit cards or mortgages after a divorce—get those cleared up before it is finalized to be sure your ex’s credit problems do not haunt you in the future.

  • Plan for your new future – This involves taking a very realistic look at what your life and expenses will be like post-divorce. It is something you should take your time doing and do very carefully, because it involves analyzing and forecasting both your day-to-day expenses as well as long-term finances, such as your retirement plan and your estate plan. You cannot successfully convert your lifestyle and finances from that of a person who is part of a two-income home to that of a single person without a plan or preparation. Knowing your financial outlook will help you decide where you should live post-divorce and what expenses you can no longer afford or that, at least, need to be minimized. In some cases, people find that their financial outlook as a single person can be better than it was pre-divorce.

The Hoffman Estates and Des Plaines attorneys at Pluymert, MacDonald, Hargrove & Lee, Ltd provide assistance to individuals and families in the Chicagoland area facing family law issues, such as divorce, adoption, spousal support, child custody, prenuptial agreements, grandparents’ rights, child custody and more.

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