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10 Common Mistakes Made During Illinois Divorces and How to Avoid Them

Posted on in Divorce

DuPage County divorce lawyer for property division and child custodyDivorce is typically not something that most people want to think about. After all, many divorces do not end on a high note, and they can end up turning out to be one of the most stressful life events that people go through. Yet, divorces do take place, and life goes on, though several different aspects of a person’s life can be affected. Without proper preparation and guidance, a person’s social, emotional, financial, and mental health can be affected, along with their future well-being.

The fact of the matter is, there are things that you should and should not do when getting a divorce in Illinois. There are many mistakes that you can make during your divorce, but a knowledgeable Illinois divorce lawyer will be able to help you anticipate these errors and prevent them from being made. Here are a few common divorce mistakes you will want to avoid:

Choosing the Wrong Type of Divorce for Your Situation

Contrary to what many people may think, there is more than one way to get divorced from your spouse. When you think of the word divorce, you likely think of a litigated divorce, or a more “traditional” divorce in which disputes are resolved inside the courtroom. While this is still an option in Illinois, it is typically only used as a last resort or in situations with extenuating circumstances. The state of Illinois highly encourages you and your spouse to work together with one another to settle the issues pertaining to your divorce because the outcomes tend to be better. Both mediated and collaborative divorces offer benefits that a litigated divorce does not.

For example, both collaborative divorce and mediation offer forms of alternative dispute resolution in which you and your spouse are more likely to come up with a workable solution to your issues than if you took your disputes to court. Another major benefit to both mediation and collaborative divorce is that you are in control of the outcome of your situation, rather than a judge making decisions for you in a litigated divorce. However, litigated divorces do have their place, and they can be useful in situations that involve a controlling or abusive partner. Choosing the right type of divorce for your situation can greatly affect the outcome of your case, so it is important that you weigh your decision carefully.

Not Being Prepared

Another notorious mistake that is often made during many Illinois divorces is simply not being fully prepared for the divorce process. This can happen in a couple of different ways. If you are emotionally unprepared for your divorce, you may struggle to manage the changes in your life, and you may not fully understand the goals you want to achieve throughout the divorce process.

Once you have determined that you will be getting a divorce, you will need to begin to gather all of your necessary documentation. Most of the time, this pertains to financial documentation, such as bank statements, credit card statements, retirement account information, etc., but it can also pertain to other documentation, such as proof of ownership through deeds, mortgage paperwork, loan ledgers, and vehicle titles. This preparation can help you understand the financial issues and other concerns that you will need to address as you work to end your marriage.

Not Knowing Your Priorities

One of the first things your attorney will ask you is what you want out of your divorce. Many people do not have an exact answer to that question right away, which is okay, but it is a question you need to think about. What issues matter the most to you? Are you willing to sacrifice certain goals or make concessions in order to get what you want in a different area? These are the questions you should be asking yourself before you dive headfirst into your divorce. A willingness to negotiate and an ability to cooperate are very important. For example, if you know that getting the parenting time schedule that you want is the most important thing in your divorce, you can use that to your advantage and negotiate with other things, such as the division of marital assets.

Hiding or Attempting to Hide Assets

Another big no-no is attempting to conceal any of your marital assets. This is actually one of the worst things you could do during your divorce. Sometimes, attempts to hide assets can be made out of spite, or you may believe that your spouse does not deserve to keep certain property. Rather than share the entirety of the marital estate with your spouse, you may wish to conceal certain items to prevent your spouse from receiving his or her fair share of the marital estate. Not only is this unfair, but it is also illegal to hide assets during the divorce process, and you could face penalties for doing so.

Not Hiring a Financial Professional to Examine Your Case

In some situations, it may be necessary to work with a financial expert to address certain aspects of your divorce. In many marriages, it is not uncommon for one spouse to manage the family’s finances, while the other spouse has little to no knowledge or control over these matters. In situations such as these, it can be greatly beneficial to hire a financial advisor, Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) or other professionals to review your finances and determine the best course of action for your divorce.

A financial professional can help you gain a clearer understanding of your current financial standing, as well as what your financial situation may look like in the future. They can help you plan out a post-divorce budget and gameplan for your finances, along with helping you ensure that any divorce settlement or agreement is fair and just.

Ignoring Tax Issues

The financial side of divorce can become rather tricky when it comes to taxes. There are various things you should keep in mind about the tax consequences of your divorce. Your filing status that you use when filing an annual tax return will depend on when your divorce is finalized. If your divorce is finalized on or before December 31, then you must file a single tax return for that year. If your divorce is finalized after that date, you and your ex-spouse can still a joint tax return for the previous year. Other things to keep in mind include updating your income tax withholding to make sure you are paying the correct amount and ensuring that your divorce decree addresses who will claim your children as dependents on your tax returns.

Mishandling Debt During the Division Process

Just like your assets must be divided before you can divorce, your debts must also be divided. Common debts that couples have when they get divorced include vehicle loans, mortgages, credit card debt, student loans, and other types of consumer debt. Any debts that you and your spouse have taken out in either spouse’s name or jointly are subject to division. Your debt is subject to all of the same criteria as your assets were during division, meaning your debt should be divided in an equitable manner. A variety of factors should be considered when distributing debt during the division process, including the income of both spouses, the earning capacity of both spouses, the marital property that was assigned to each spouse, and whether or not either spouse has obligations such as spousal maintenance or child support to pay each month.

Blocking Off Communication With Your Spouse

It may seem like a strange time to focus on communication, but being able to work together with your spouse is often key to a successful divorce. This can prove to be problematic for many reasons. If your spouse is particularly argumentative or does not want to cooperate with you, it may be difficult to establish and maintain open lines of communication. Though maintaining regular contact can be difficult, it is important that you make a commitment to yourself and to your spouse to be willing to listen and cooperate.

If you have children with your spouse, it can be especially important that you cooperate and communicate with one another. Just because you and your spouse are getting a divorce does not mean that you get to forget about them -- you will always be co-parents of your children, whether you like it or not. Being able to communicate openly with your ex will be a huge help in the long run.

Listening to Your Heart Instead of Your Head

Even though getting a divorce involves multiple legal issues, it is also very much an emotional process. It does not matter if you were married for five months, five years, or 15 years -- getting a divorce at any point will hurt all the same. Many emotions are common during the divorce process, including anger, frustration, despair, rage, depression, annoyance, relief, and possibly even hopelessness. It can be extremely difficult to balance your emotions with your rational mind and see things through a logical point of view, but it is not impossible.

When you are experiencing emotional pain, it is not uncommon for your mind to become illogical and for you to make rash decisions. This, however, is what leads to mistakes that can end up affecting your life for years to come. Though it can be easy to let your emotions fuel the fire for your divorce, it is important to let your head do the thinking.

Not Protecting Your Children From Conflict

Ideally, there would be little to no conflict throughout your divorce, but for most couples, that is a pipe dream. There is almost always going to be some sort of conflict during the divorce process. However, if you have children, it is extremely important that you do everything in your power to protect them from that conflict.

Divorce itself has not been linked to negative effects in children, but constant exposure to divorce-related conflict has been. Multiple studies have been conducted that have discovered that children who grow up in households that have constant conflict between the parents are more likely to have behavioral and emotional issues, trouble with romantic relationships, and substance abuse issues in the future. To help avoid causing harm to your children, you should be sure to refrain from arguing in front of them, speaking negatively about your spouse in their presence, encouraging them to take sides in your divorce, or asking them to send messages between parents.

Our DuPage County Divorce Attorney Is Here to Help

There are many, many mistakes you can make when you get a divorce, each with its own consequences and outcomes. With so many options to choose from and things to remember, it will greatly benefit you to hire a skilled Elmhurst, IL divorce lawyer to help you make the right decisions during the divorce process. At Weiss-Kunz & Oliver, LLC, we understand that navigating a divorce can be difficult, but we are prepared to assist you with your divorce in whatever way we can. To schedule a free consultation, call our office today at 312-605-4041.








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