The average marriage which ends in divorce lasts a little under eight years. In that period of time, most couples go through lots of ups and downs, to say the least. Sometimes, a marriage takes off like a rocket, and other times it goes into a nosedive. If you feel like your marriage is headed for divorce, there are some things you can do to prepare yourself for what lies ahead.
Before we get to the list, let’s talk about one item that is not on the list. Reconciliation is often good, but in a no-fault divorce environment, reconciliation is also often a one-way street. If one spouse files for divorce, the other spouse can delay the proceedings. But, the non-filing spouse cannot stop the proceedings. A reasonable chance of reconciliation is usually not an effective legal defense in these situations.
Whether you are the filing or non-filing spouse, a do-it-yourself divorce is not a good idea. The emotional and financial issues are far too complex. An Aurora divorce attorney gives you solid legal advice throughout the marriage dissolution proceeding. Then, when the case goes to court, a lawyer stands up for your legal and financial rights.
All good parents put the needs of their children before their own needs. So, before you decide to divorce, think about the needs of the children and how a marriage dissolution would affect them.
Raising children is hard enough. Raising children in a co-parenting environment is even harder. No matter how hard the parents try to make this environment kid-friendly, the children’s routine is usually turned upside-down. Everyday life becomes a chess game of moving between mom’s house and dad’s house. That is especially true since Illinois law presumes that children benefit when they spend a meaningful and consistent amount of time with each parent.
That being said, a co-parenting environment is very rarely the end of the world. Most children are emotionally resilient. They can usually adjust to a radically new environment in a relatively short amount of time. Additionally, if the marriage involves lots of spousal conflict, a calmer environment may be better for the children.
Divorce is not only a change for the children. It is also a major change for the spouses, from an emotional and financial standpoint.
Nationwide, about 75% of Americans believe that divorce is morally acceptable. So, if your marriage may be headed for divorce, there will be people who say you should stay together, no matter what. There are also people who will say you should split up, no matter what. A trial separation helps spouses know for sure if the grass really is greener on the other side of the field.
The aforementioned emotional and financial changes vary. Emotionally, the adjustment from married to single life is usually more difficult than the transition from single to married life. But not everyone has the same experience. Financially, divorce usually means more bills for both spouses. A spouse either pays financial support or is suddenly financially responsible for pretty much everything.
If a trial separation becomes permanent, and it usually does, the financial support and parenting timeshare provisions the spouses informally agreed on usually become part of the final divorce paperwork.
Divorce involves emotional and financial changes for both spouses. It also involves emotional and financial costs for both spouses.
Most of the emotional changes involve transition. The residential parent suddenly becomes mom and dad, at least for most purposes. The non-residential parent often transitions from a parent into an event planner. Grief is usually part of the process as well. Not all spouses grieve the loss of their marriage. But pretty much all spouses at least grieve the loss of what might have been,
Financially, there is no good answer to a question like “how much does a divorce cost?” or “what is the average cost of a divorce in Illinois?” As for the actual cost, the only legitimate answer an Aurora divorce attorney can give is the divorce will probably cost more than you thought it would cost. “Average” cost figures are usually available, but they are basically meaningless, just like the “average” new car price is meaningless. There are too many variables.
Continuing with our emotional and financial theme, let’s turn to the emotional evidence spouses often need in divorce cases.
The emotional issues in a marriage dissolution usually involve child custody and parenting time division. Evidence on this point usually includes school records, medical records, and witness statements. Start gathering such information now, to avoid a major rush later.
Emotional evidence in a divorce case usually also includes a social services investigation. This investigation usually involves at least one home visit, multiple interviews with adults and children related to the case, and extensive document review. If you are not comfortable with that level of government scrutiny, that is something else to consider in your decision to divorce.
Sometimes, FSO (family support obligation) issues are quite straightforward. A simple exchange of W-2s and tax returns resolves all questions.
Other times, financial evidence is a complex matter. That is especially true in the gig economy era. Many people freelance either part-time or full-time. Reliable financial information is much harder to find, especially since many people are less than forthright on their tax returns.
Retirement accounts are a special case, as they involve both financial and emotional issues. Financially, an IRA, 401(k), or other retirement nest egg is often the largest financial asset in a marriage dissolution case. Emotionally, such an account represents future financial security and a reward for long-term savings.
Civil cases in general, and divorce cases in particular, often involve flurries of activity and long periods of inactivity. It is common for both filing and non-filing spouses to either feel overwhelmed or feel like their attorneys are not doing anything. Rely on your lawyer through the peaks and valleys.
Of course, this level of trust is only appropriate if you partnered with the right lawyer to begin with. As you shop for legal representation, look for an attorney that has considerable experience in family law. Your lawyer’s practice should also be mostly or entirely dedicated to family law.
The last legal document in a marriage dissolution case is usually the final decree of divorce. After the judge issues this decree, the case might lie dormant for several years. But it is not final. Enforcement and modification actions are quite common. In other words, it is only a matter of time before the emotional and financial questions pop up again.
Divorce is a big step, and also a costly step, from a financial and emotional standpoint. For a free consultation with an experienced DuPage County divorce attorney, contact Keller Legal Services by calling 630-505-1515. Convenient payment plans are available.