Some Illinois residents contemplating a divorce don't know that most states require an equitable rather than equal split of assets. This requires negotiation. Although every divorce is different because of the unique circumstances of the couple, there are some things that everyone who's going through a divorce should do to prepare. This is true even if it isn't a complex divorce.
Courts usually award assets on a percentage basis, which means that it's important to gather all documents pertaining to finances. This includes such things as real estate, bank accounts, retirement accounts, securities, trusts, prenuptial agreements, taxes, credit cards and loans. It's also important to establish a separate checking account. Spouses going through a divorce should get professional legal and financial help to protect their rights and remember that they can negotiate to include those fees in the final settlement. Moreover, experts caution against reducing the standard of living before the final divorce because it gives their spouse grounds to balk at setting any future monetary support higher than that level.
If the couple owns a home, it's important to calculate how much it will cost to pay the mortgage, taxes, insurance and maintenance before making a decision on whether to fight to keep it. Even if retirement is far in the future, it's essential to negotiate for benefits from those accounts. Couples who have children need to establish child support and negotiate health care coverage and the cost of providing it. Divorcing parents should also decide how to pay college tuition for a child.
Preparing for divorce negotiations is important. A divorce lawyer might be able to help someone better understand their options and rights. A lawyer might also be able to explain what is feasible or what could have an uncertain outcome in those particular circumstances.
Source: Huffington Post, "We're Getting A Divorce, Now What?", Linda Descano, July 29, 2013