If your marriage is in question, you may be the one who is deciding “Should I stay or should I go”? While the process can seem overwhelming, there are things you can do to get through this difficult adjustment. If you’ve decided divorce or separation is the only way forward, here’s what you should know.
If you have decided to get divorced, you may have concerns about the cost, time commitment, and stress associated with the process. Which is why Masters Law Group works tirelessly in order to make the divorce process easier on you, for you and your children.
If possible, an amicable relationship with your ex can lead to a more straightforward divorce, because it won’t (usually) involve going to trial. An amicable or somewhat amicable divorce will often result in a quick(er) divorce.
As an ordeal that can be draining mentally and financially, it’s important to be prepared. Whether you are in search of Divorce Mediation, a Contested Divorce, Uncontested Divorce or Legal Separation, here’s what you need to know.
Is a Quick Divorce Possible?
Divorce is a stressful experience, and it’s important to get through it as quickly as possible in order to mitigate stress on everyone involved. Especially the children. The divorce process does not have to take years or even months. If you’re able to come to an agreement with your spouse about custody, visitation, spousal support, and division of property, your divorce can proceed through divorce court rather quickly.
The easiest type of divorce, which takes the least amount of time, is called an uncontested divorce. In Illinois, this is also referred to as “dissolution of marriage”. This relatively fast divorce happens because all of the major issues have been agreed upon by you and your spouse. Both parties agree on all the key terms of the divorce, including: Dividing marital property, Child custody and Parenting Time schedule.
Do Uncontested Divorces Take Less Time Than Contested Divorces?
A contested divorce is one where the parties cannot agree on some or all issues. It may involve a trial, and it may involve lengthy settlement meetings. It may also involve digging into your spouse’s finances, which takes a lot of time and energy.
There are many reasons why divorce can be contested. Typically, one party feels that they have not been treated fairly in some way during the divorce process and wants to fight for what they feel is their right. If you are going through a contested divorce, it is important to know what your options are so that you can make an informed decision about how to proceed with your case.
An uncontested divorce, however, takes a lot less time because you agree with your spouse on various issues. Here are a few examples:
- Child support
- Spousal support
- Division of assets
- Life and health insurance policies
In the long run, an uncontested divorce will save you time and money in legal fees, will reduce stress, and will get you through the court system much faster than a contested divorce.
Anger. Resentment. Bitterness. These are some of the feelings that many people associate with family law issues. It is often true that litigation – the traditional mode of dispute resolution – breeds these kinds of feelings. Fortunately, there are other ways to deal with family disputes that lead to much happier, healthier results: Mediation.
Mediation is considered an alternative dispute resolution process where an impartial or neutral mediator helps guide you and your spouse in settlement efforts – hopefully helping you reach a final agreement. Unlike judges, a mediator has no authority to make decisions for you or your spouse. Their job is to keep you and your spouse’s focus on your needs and interests instead of fault and rights.
When a couple begins divorce mediation, they either choose the mediator in advance or one may be appointed by the court, with the court deciding how to split the costs. Both spouses provide documentation to support their viewpoint regarding disputed issues, while the mediator works with both sides to find a resolution. The goal of the mediator is to reach an agreement between the two parties, therefore it is critically important to work with your divorce mediator attorney to ensure that the proposed solution is truly fair and equitable to you.
Your first thought may immediately go to divorce, and that is understandable due to it being the most common approach to seemingly irreconcilable differences. However, you have another option that is less permanent that is worth considering. There is a large difference between deciding to be physically separated from your spouse and legally separated from them.
A divorce means your marriage is 100% legally over, the court can assist in determining the allocation of parental responsibilities, parenting time, and child support. The court can also determine spousal support and divide property. Couples that have decided they can’t reconcile may be ready for an immediate divorce. However, even if you believe you will ultimately file for a divorce, a legal separation is worth to consider.
A legal separation is a less permanent option, meaning you’re living apart but still legally married. If you don’t think you can live with your spouse, you can file for legal separation. Obtaining a legal separation does not prevent you or your spouse from obtaining a divorce later. Legal separation is less emotionally taxing than divorce because the permanence of a divorce isn’t there which still allows for the legal relationship to exist between the married couple. The court can order a separation between you and your spouse, and it would include similar aspects to a divorce such as allocation of child support and custody arrangements.
Part of divorcing is figuring out who gets what. A good place to start is to make a list and keep proper documentation of personal items that belong only to you, such as jewelry, family heirlooms, or photos and papers that have special meaning to you. If necessary, give these items to a trusted family member or friend for safekeeping.
It’s essential to have your financial paperwork organized and in one place, such as a file or binder. Start by collecting and making copies of your legal documents, including:
- Marriage documents: Agreements and marriage license
- Tax returns: Federal and state tax returns for the past five years
- Real estate: Deeds, appraisals, cost basis of home, mortgages, rental property records
- Business documents: Receipts, tax returns, payroll information, and any registrations, patents, or trademarks
- End-of-life plans: Will, power of attorney, advance healthcare directive
If you have trouble finding any documents (or your spouse is making it difficult), your attorney can help.
Do You Need an Attorney for Divorce?
Hiring an experienced legal advocate that is well-versed in family law will be the best option for you moving forward. They can help explain this process to you and is the greatest way to ensure the best possible outcome that is custom and unique to your family’s situation.
Illinois Legal Aid Online provides a guided interview that will ask you a series of questions related to this topic and then the program will complete the forms for you. It is free to use.
To see the overall process of getting a divorce in Illinois when you have children, please click here.
Masters Law Group understands that divorce is a stressful situation and that our clients want to move on with their lives. As such, we move through settlement negotiations, mediation or litigation with our clients’ assurance and well being in mind. Whether you are facing a contested divorce, uncontested divorce, or civil union divorce, our firm’s attorneys are ready to skillfully advocate for your position and provide your voice when you need it most. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.