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Divorce, family law and appeals representation in Joliet, Illinois

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Joliet Family Law Blog

Shocked by divorce? It's time to get to work

You and your spouse were eating dinner when he suddenly put down his fork and looked straight at you. It took you by surprise, but with the look he gave, you knew what was coming.

At that moment, everything you'd built up during your marriage seemed to fall apart. Now, you have no choice but to go through with the divorce, because he's already made up his mind.

Strategies to ease the path during a divorce can be beneficial

When an Illinois couple gets a divorce, there are often challenges that make the process difficult. People can find themselves embroiled in various disputes that tend to make a divorce harder than necessary. Although it can be complicated to get through the process, there are strategies to help make it somewhat easier.

For those getting a divorce, there are four steps that can be useful. While the relationship might be coming apart, that does not mean it is wise to hide things from the other person or to abandon honesty. This includes finances and the factors that led to the divorce. Since Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, the reasons for the divorce do not need to be shared. Still, if it helps with the case's resolution, it might be useful to be upfront.

Deciding between litigation or negotiation in a divorce

Some people in Illinois may face a difficult decision during a divorce between accepting a less-than-satisfactory settlement or continuing to pursue their asset division or custody demands in court. There are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches.

In general, litigation costs more and takes longer than negotiating a settlement. People should be sure they are prepared and able to pay the additional costs of going to court. They should also be aware that court dates are likely to be set months out, and attorneys also need time to prepare a case. While it might be better to stay with negotiations to try to wrap up the divorce quickly, if agreement simply does not seem possible, people may want to move on to litigation to avoid wasting any more time in futile attempts to negotiate.

"Gray divorce" on the rise

Statistics show that more older people in Illinois and across the country are filing for divorce. Further, this is happening at a time when divorce rates are declining among all other age groups.

Between 1990 and 2010, the divorce rate for individuals over the age of 50 doubled. The phenomenon, known as "gray divorce," adds another danger zone to the two previously recognized divorce peaks in marriage. The first peak occurs after around seven years of marriage, and the second happens around the 20-year mark. Now, experts are grappling with a new peak that seems to occur after the age of 50.

Divorce: Marital issues that are often causal factors

Whether you've been married 20 or more years, or have not yet reached your 10-year anniversary, you and your spouse may have encountered challenges in your relationship. If so, you're definitely not the only Illinois couple to say they have had marriage problems. While some spouses are able to resolve such issues in time, others determine the most viable solution is to file for divorce.

When you make the decision to end your marriage, it not only affects you and your spouse but other people in your lives as well, especially if you have children. There are certain issues that might increase your chances for divorce more than someone who has not experienced such problems in a marital relationship.

Cooperative parenting after divorce eases transition for children

Parents getting a divorce in Illinois can apply strategies that ease the transition to two households for their children. The dissolution of a marriage naturally upsets children, but parents willing to make an extra effort to cooperate could reduce emotional burdens on their children during a disruptive time.

Children frequently worry that they did something to cause their parents to break up. They may even want to know if they can do anything to fix the situation for their parents. Parents should make an ongoing effort to convince children that they were not the reason for the divorce. When possible, it might reduce anxiety for children if they were not informed about the divorce until some or all details of the split have been established. This will reduce uncertainty and help children cope because parents can provide concrete answers about what will happen.

Marital finances and the divorce process

People in Illinois who are not knowledgeable about or involved in the family finances may be at a disadvantage during the divorce process. According to a survey by Fidelity Investments, it takes people around five years to recover emotionally and financially from divorce. However, the longest recovery was for people who did not participate in the day-to-day finances while they were married.

Many of them regretted taking this approach with 80% saying that after the divorce, they felt bad about this lack of involvement. It is also important to be involved in planning for long-term investments and retirement. While people generally do not enter a marriage anticipating divorce, a prenuptial agreement may be a good idea to identify what property will stay separate during the marriage and how any shared property may be divided. However, even couples who have a prenup may find that their finances get more complex after marriage. For example, an inheritance might be considered one person's property, but putting it in a shared account could change that. A postnuptial agreement can address these issues.

Tips for creating custody or visitation agreements

Generally speaking, it is easier for Illinois parents to create effective parenting plans when they are willing to communicate with each other. It is also important to take the needs of the child into account when doing so. For instance, a baby or toddler may want or need to spend more time with one parent than the other. Once a child is old enough to start school, it may be appropriate to allow extended visits with a noncustodial parent.

For a young child, an extended visit may simply be a few hours during the day or spending the night at a parent's house. Teenagers generally have less structured lives, which can make a parenting plan challenging. However, it is important to consider their social and academic needs when creating the parenting plan. Parents should also understand that a child will likely need time to deal with life after a divorce regardless of how old they are when it happens.

Divorce and retirement accounts

When couples in Illinois divorce, financial matters are often a primary concern. Issues that need to be resolved during the divorce process include property division, particularly if a couple owns a home or a business, the division of any existing joint debts, child support, alimony and asset division.

One aspect of asset division that can present challenges is what happens to the spouses' retirement accounts, including 401(k)s and IRAs. Funds that have been added to these accounts during the marriage may be considered marital property and are subject to division.

Financial issues that may cause you concern in divorce

When you decide that you no longer wish to stay in a marriage, it can be emotionally traumatic. Even if you and your spouse agree to part ways as friends, the fact that you both shared one of the most intimate experiences of a life journey means it is understandable that you might be emotionally affected by your decision to move on in life without each other. Especially, if you have children together, your relationship as co-parents might intensify the emotional challenges of filing for divorce.

In addition to emotional difficulties, you might also find yourself worrying about numerous financial issues as you prepare to negotiate a settlement. Divorce can definitely have a significant impact on your financial status, both in the present and also, as the future unfolds. The more you know about your rights, Illinois property division laws and child custody guidelines, the better equipped you'll be to make sure you receive a fair settlement.

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