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barrington divorce lawyerMost marriages begin with high hopes, and the prospect of divorce seems unlikely, if not impossible. Unfortunately, statistics show that 40-50 percent of marriages end in divorce. Although nobody wants to go through the divorce process, there are things you can do to make it go more smoothly. 

Being cautious about your choice of divorce attorney and choosing someone who has experience and skill can make a difference in how well your divorce is managed. Here are some of the things you should consider when looking for a divorce attorney. 

  • Understand your wants and needs – You may not want to litigate your divorce in court, so an attorney with experience in mediation and negotiating out-of-court settlements may be your best fit. If you know that you are heading toward a high-conflict divorce, you may need someone who will be aggressive on your behalf. Whatever your circumstances, a realistic assessment of your wants and needs will help you choose the right attorney. 

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Kane County family law attorney divorce

Ending a marriage is always a difficult process, but it is especially hard when you are trying to divorce a spouse who has been abusive to you or your children. An abusive spouse may try to stop you from filing for divorce in the first place, and they will likely do everything in their power to make the divorce process as difficult as possible, often including threatening your safety. It goes without saying that good faith negotiations are not possible in such circumstances, and your best option for protecting yourself and your interests is to work with an experienced attorney who can stand up for you.

Protecting Yourself and Your Property

Perhaps the most important consideration when divorcing an abusive spouse is securing the physical safety of yourself and your children. If you have been the victim of domestic abuse or you believe you are in danger, you can petition for an order of protection in Illinois court. An order of protection can prohibit your spouse from engaging in acts of abuse, or communicating with or coming near you or your children at home, work, or school. An order of protection can also grant you temporary exclusive possession of your home and other property, or prevent your spouse from taking or destroying marital property.

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Kane County family law attorney divorce

Parents who are getting a divorce face many challenges when it comes to their children. Not only will they need to reach a resolution that protects their children’s interests, but they will also face the difficult responsibility of helping their children process the many changes and stresses that come along with the end of a marriage and family unit. Children of all ages are bound to have questions throughout the divorce process, and parents should be prepared to answer them to the best of their ability.

Common Questions Kids May Ask About Divorce

Regardless of whether or not there have been noticeable signs of conflict in your marriage, your children will likely be surprised and shocked when you tell them that you are getting a divorce. Every child will react differently to this news, but most will have questions either immediately or after they have some time to process their emotions and thoughts. Some of the most common questions include variations of the following:

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Kane County divorce attorney property division

Out of all the properties that must be divided in an Illinois divorce, the home in which the couple and their family lived often causes the most conflict and disagreement. Not only is it typically the most valuable asset that a couple shares, it also serves as a place of shelter and comfort, and in many cases, it inspires strong emotional attachment. However, the reality is that it is almost never reasonable for divorced spouses to continue living in the same home, so a difficult decision will likely need to be made. As you prepare to divide your marital property, below are some questions that could complicate decisions regarding the marital home.

Is the Home Considered Marital Property?

Many married couples choose to purchase a home together, with both spouses’ names on the mortgage and deed. When this is the case, the home will almost certainly be included in the division of marital property. Even if only one spouse’s name is listed, the home will likely be considered marital property if it was purchased during the marriage, especially if it served as the couple’s primary residence.

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Barrington divorce attorney parenting time

During the divorce process, “normal” is a relative term. Of course, you, your spouse, and your children are going through a monumental life change, and many of the things you have grown accustomed to will never be the same. That said, it is still important that you try to keep things as normal as possible for your children to help them cope with the things that are changing and assure them that they still have a stable support system.

Maintaining Consistency Throughout the Divorce Process

As your family goes through the upheaval of a divorce, here are some suggestions for promoting a degree of stability and normalcy for your children:

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In many ways, divorce mediation offers advantages over trial litigation, including greater control over the outcome, increased privacy, and often lower costs and a shorter time frame. However, it is a mistake to assume that mediation is “easy” and therefore requires less preparation. Even if you and your spouse get along exceptionally well and are committed to a mutually beneficial resolution, you will still have to make many important decisions that can affect the rest of your lives. With so much on the line, it is best to go into your mediation sessions fully prepared.

Tips for Preparing for Divorce Mediation

If you have decided to try to resolve your divorce through mediation, here are some things you can do to prepare before the process officially begins:

  1. Gather your documents. Primarily, this includes documentation of your financial assets and debts, including both marital property and your own personal, non-marital property. Bringing your own documents can help you protect your interests as you negotiate a fair division of property. If you and your spouse have previously created a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, this is also an important document to bring with you to mediation, as it can significantly expedite the process.

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Kane County divorce attorney debt division

A divorce often involves conflict, or at least extensive discussions, regarding the equitable division of marital property. It is understandable that you and your spouse will both have strong feelings about the assets that you want to retain, for both personal and financial reasons. However, as you engage in these conversations, it is important not to forget about the impact of marital debt on the proceedings. You will want to be sure that you are not left with more debt than you can handle, and that any debts remaining in your name are appropriately managed.

What Is Considered Marital Debt?

In Illinois, debts are treated much the same as assets when it comes to determining which are considered marital and non-marital. This means that a debt incurred by one of the parties before the marriage will likely remain separate, or the sole responsibility of that person, but a debt incurred by either or both parties during the marriage may be considered the joint responsibility of both partners. Along with marital property, these marital debts must be distributed equitably when the partners decide to get a divorce.

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Kane County divorce attorney parenting time

After a divorce, sharing parenting time with your former spouse throughout the year can be difficult, and sharing time on the holidays can be even harder. It is not easy to get used to the idea that you may be apart from your children at such a meaningful time, but it is important to recognize that your children need to be able to spend time with both parents. While you and your ex may not agree on every detail regarding holiday parenting time, you should try to practice healthy ways of managing this disagreement.

Co-Parenting Suggestions for Important Holidays

Whether this is the first holiday season after your divorce or you have been trying to successfully co-parent for years, these tips may help you manage conflict with the other parent more effectively:

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Kane County divorce attorney spousal maintenance

The words “alimony” and “spousal support” may conjure visions of ugly court battles in which each spouse tries to get the better of the other, but in reality, this often does not have to be the case. If you and your spouse are willing to cooperate, it is possible to reach a mutual agreement on spousal support without requiring a trial at all. If you are concerned about your ability to support yourself financially after your divorce, it may be in your best interest to negotiate with your spouse to establish a maintenance arrangement that meets your needs.

Suggestions for Successful Spousal Maintenance Negotiations

As you prepare to approach a negotiation with your spouse on the subject of spousal support, here are some tips that may help you succeed:

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Algonquin divorce attorney order modification

Once your divorce is finalized, it is important to recognize that the terms ordered or approved in court are legally binding and that there can be significant consequences if you fail to follow them. However, this does not necessarily mean that you are forever trapped by an agreement that puts you at a disadvantage, especially if your situation has changed significantly since your divorce. When circumstances call for it, you can pursue a legal modification to your divorce decree that considers your current state of affairs.

Reasons for a Divorce Decree Modification

The most common elements of a divorce decree that can be modified are spousal support, child support, and the allocation of parenting time and parental responsibilities. There are a number of possible situations in which a modification may be necessary or beneficial, including:

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Algonquin divorce attorney asset division

Under any circumstances, divorce can put a financial strain on couples as they prepare to divide their assets. This aspect of the divorce process may be even more difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic, a time when property valuations can suffer due to the struggling economy and many people are concerned about job security. However, with the assistance of a skilled divorce attorney and the willingness to explore alternative solutions, you may be able to reach an agreement that protects both spouses from excessive financial hardship.

How Are Assets Divided in an Illinois Divorce?

Under Illinois law, most assets acquired by either spouse throughout the course of the marriage are usually considered marital property. During a divorce, marital property is to be distributed equitably, meaning that the division is usually not 50/50 but instead based on factors including the length of the marriage, the terms of any prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, child custody arrangements, and each spouse’s contributions to the acquisition of marital property. Each spouse’s health, financial situation, and earning potential are also considered, meaning that if one spouse has been impacted more severely by COVID-19, assets may be distributed accordingly.

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