As a woman unhappy in your marriage, divorce may have crossed your mind from time-to-time. But you could be left wondering whether it’s the right choice for you, your children, and even your spouse. That’s why you need specific divorce advice to make the most informed decision possible.
Women’s History Month is a celebration of women’s contributions to history, culture and society. This holiday has been observed annually in the month of March in the United States since 1987.
Divorce is one of the biggest and the toughest decisions that a woman can make and if often twice as problematic. There are factors you have to think of beforehand, and then there are others that you can not avoid later down the line. As Women’s History Month comes to a close, here are a couple tips you can follow to protect yourself during a divorce.
First Step: Get Mentally Prepared
When you tell your spouse you want a divorce, and especially when you actually file for divorce, you’re crossing a line that you can’t usually go back over. To decide if you are ready for this life changing step, be sure to ask yourself these questions:
- Am I really ready for divorce?
- Should I speak with a therapist?
- Do my kids need a therapist?
- Do I have all relevant information and financial documents gathered?
- What are my set goals?
- Do I have a support network?
- How do I put my children first?
- What should my negotiations be?
- How do I foster a good relationship between my kids and their other parent?
- Am I prepared for other relationships to change?
- Am I being kind to myself?
Once you have answered these questions and mentally prepared yourself, it’s time to go through the following pieces of advice with your family law attorney.
Anticipate Unexpected Costs
In life and divorce, always be ready for unpleasant surprises. You may be well-prepared for all the monetary issues that you think you might face, but even then, there are chances of unexpected expenses popping up at just the wrong time.
For example, if you find yourself in a situation where your spouse is able to boot you from their health insurance, it will leave you with an additional cost of as much as $1,000 per month. A majority of spouses avoid their financial responsibilities, so the divorce advice for women is to be careful in this matter and make your choices with eyes wide open.
From hiring the wrong divorce attorney to unnecessarily taking your divorce to trial, discuss potential hidden costs with your family law attorney to be most prepared for what’s to come.
Dig Deeply Into Your Joint Finances
It is a matter of common knowledge, more or less a fact, that 40% of divorce proceedings are about money. So the best divorce advice for women is that you need to get as much information as you can about your joint accounts. This includes:
- All of your online passwords to joint accounts.
- All of the minor details of your joint investments.
As a precautionary tactic, it’s important to discuss the details with your attorney and seek their advice on matters dealing with financial assets. Your top priority should always be your financial well-being. This is because the emotions and the mental stress will eventually lessen and will go away one day but the fulfillment of your expenses is a reality, and you will have to face it today, tomorrow and in the days to come. You should estimate how much you will be needing after the divorce and make sure you ask for it – and get it.
Decide if it’s a 50/50 Divorce
Unlike other states that divide the marital estate exactly in half, Illinois instead considers a variety of factors to determine an asset division arrangement that is fair and reasonable on both ends. Unfortunately, Illinois is not a 50/50 state for divorce. This means that the court weighs a number of factors to determine how to fairly divide property rather than dividing property 50/50.
These factors include each spouse’s contribution to acquiring the property, the value of the property, the duration of the marriage, and which party has more responsibility for any children of the marriage.
Decide if Divorce Mediation is for You
Does your divorce case need to go to trial? Not always.
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.
Even when parting spouses disagree, a divorce doesn’t always have to be a big fight. Divorce mediation is a way of finding solutions to issues such as child custody and spousal support. It acts as an alternative to the formal process of litigation in divorce court.
People might want to stop you from getting a divorce and sometimes they might even be right, but one thing that you should always try and remember is that getting a divorce is better than staying in a toxic relationship. It will hurt, but what matters in the long run is your happiness.
Divorces usually tend to be drawn out, especially when the parties cannot agree on how to handle issues such as child support, allocation of parenting time and responsibility, spousal maintenance, and division of assets and debts.
However, if the parties can agree on the issues mentioned above, this is called an uncontested divorce. In an uncontested divorce, the parties and their attorneys draft written agreements at the outset. These are known as Marital Settlement Agreements and Joint Parenting Agreements. Uncontested divorces can be resolved with one court appearance and can be finished as quickly as a month.
Divorce is rough – nobody can argue that. But remember: You don’t need to do everything perfectly. Give yourself some space and let your mind heal from the divorce process you have just undergone, or are currently undergoing. Be in control of your life as it comes to you and don’t push yourself too hard. When you’re going through a divroce you should allow yourself some grace for taking the steps to change things for the better.
While there are many questions and valid concerns that come with divorce, the divorce process itself does not have to be difficult, and you don’t have to go it alone. 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.
If you are a woman contemplating filing for divorce, Masters Law Group’s team of experienced attorneys can answer any questions you may have throughout this process.