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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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