If you are in a bad marriage and contemplating divorce, you should take action now to do some pre-planning. Although every divorce is emotional and difficult, pre-planning can put you in the best possible position to make good decisions and get on with the process of rebuilding your life.
The experienced and compassionate Illinois family-law attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. understand what you are going through. Through planning before divorce, we can provide professional guidance to examine your situation and provide specific strategies to protect you and your children before, during and after the divorce process. We offer a free consultation to discuss your options.
Here are some things you can do to pre-plan your divorce:
- Get Organized
Have an idea where you stand financially by getting your personal records and papers together, including bank accounts, investment accounts, insurance information, title and mortgage statements, outstanding debts and loans, real estate closing documents, credit card statements, income tax returns, paycheck stubs, etc. Make copies of everything and keep them in a safe place to prevent them from disappearing.
- Get a Copy of Your Credit Report
Avoid unpleasant surprises. Make sure your credit status is good and that your spouse hasn’t run up debt and loans without your knowledge. Consider signing up for a credit fraud protection service to alert you to unknown activity.
- Open New Accounts
Open up bank accounts and credit cards in your name only. You may withdraw one-half of the proceeds of your joint accounts and put them in your name, but if you withdraw the entire account, you will most likely have to repay your spouse.
- Open a P.O. Box And Change Your Passwords
You want to be sure to receive all information and keep your spouse from getting it. A P.O. Box enables your lawyer to be able to communicate with you privately and send you important papers. Changing passwords to something your spouse will not guess will keep your email private and avoid having your spouse run up purchases in your name. Make sure the new passwords are strong and something your spouse will not guess.
- Close All Social Networking Sites and Websites
Social media has too much information which may be used as evidence against you. Closing sites prevents your spouse from accessing this information, inserting unfavorable comments or affecting your reputation.
- Document Everything
Start documenting everything your spouse does that might benefit you in any financial or custody situation. Gather any information that might help you as well. Be aware that Illinois courts attempt to settle custody battles based on what is in the best interest of the child, so start thinking in those terms.
Consider Where You Might Reach Agreement
If there are areas in which you believe you could reach agreement with your spouse, if you work these out in advance, you may be able to avoid a court battle and save yourselves money and aggravation. This is especially true in cases where you have only been married a short time and have limited assets and no children.
However, even in more complex situations, there may be areas where you may be able to come to agreement. For example:
- Will the marital home be sold? If not, which spouse will stay in it?
- Who will be responsible for submitting payment for taxes, insurance and other annual or monthly bills? Who will claim the children as dependents on tax returns?
- If you have a small business, should it be sold or will one spouse run it, and what percentage of the cash and accounts receivable will each spouse be entitled to?
- Will either spouse be entitled to any portion of a pension benefit, retirement fund, profit sharing plan, or 401k?
- Who will pay the spousal support/maintenance/alimony or child support?
- Will either spouse be responsible for maintaining health or medical insurance for the other spouse and/or children? For how long?
- Should you have equal physical custody of the children or will one spouse have primary residential custody? What type of parenting time situation would work?
Get Help – Contact Us For a Free Consultation
Every divorce is unique, as financial situations, personal property and circumstances differ, and children may be involved. Some couples can come to an agreement and work out their differences amiably; others fight a bitter war to the end and wind up having a difficult, expensive, and drawn-out contested courtroom proceeding.
Since divorce is so complex and emotionally sensitive, it is most important is to have an experienced divorce attorney on your side who has your best interests at heart. The skilled Illinois family-law attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. have helped countless families dealing with divorce. We will fight to protect your spousal rights and personal assets and guide you through each step of the pre-planning, divorce and post-divorce period.
For a free initial consultation with an experienced and compassionate DuPage County divorce lawyer, contact us online or call 630-305-0222.