Before you file for divorce there are a number of considerations to keep in mind. Once you file for divorce in Illinois, there are many changes that occur once parties. It can be difficult to determine whether or not you want to file when you want to file, and how it will impact you and your family. This article is designed to give you an idea of what to expect, and things to consider when determining whether or not to file for divorce in Illinois.
What to Expect When You File For Divorce
1. You will spend time away from your children, including during the holidays.
This is a tough one. A lot of people will “hold off” on divorcing until their children are grown and out of the house because the thought of not spending time with their children every day and every holiday is unfathomable to them. However, it is important to consider whether or not you are setting a healthy example for them of what a healthy relationship looks like. They know if you are happy or unhappy and the example you set is what you learn.
In that respect, getting them out of a less than desirable situation in exchange for only spending Christmas Day with them (instead of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) every year might be worth it, for their own personal growth. Additionally, time away from the children when they are with their other parent allows for personal growth, therapy, working out, hobbies, working, cleaning, etc. There is a positive to this negative, as long as you mentally prepare yourself.
2. You will have more bills to pay and less income with which to pay it.
If both parties work, having more bills to pay with less income is particularly true. Running one household on two incomes is very different from running two households on two incomes. Cutting back on your expenses almost always has to happen when you file for divorce.
Things To Consider Before You File for Divorce
3. Consider if you want to serve your spouse divorce papers and how.
You do not have to serve your spouse with divorce papers to start the process. Many divorces start amicably with both parties discussing settlement, or an attorney mailing a proposal to one of the parties and advising them to respond within a certain amount of time to avoid service. People who get along decently may be able to get away from service altogether, as serving someone a lot of times has a stigma to it.
4. You may second guess your decision.
It is very normal to wonder if you are doing the right thing, as is the case with any breakup, especially a marriage. You will mourn the loss of the relationship. This is all normal.
Make sure you have a strong support network, including a therapist if needed. There is no shame in talking to someone about your feelings. In the event that you want to put the case “on hold” for six months after filing, there are ways to do that, too. The divorce is not final until a Judgment is entered.
5. Illinois is a “No-fault” State.
This means the Illinois courts do not consider the parties’ conduct or wrongdoing when dividing assets. Many people are surprised by this and think that if someone was a bad husband, bad mother, abusive, etc., that they will be entitled to less money or property. That is not the law in Illinois. (However, see other blogs regarding dissipation laws in Illinois).
6. You will need some money available to you to hire an attorney even if you were not the breadwinner.
People who were stay-at-home parents often find themselves without access to funds and they will ask if they can hire a lawyer for $0 and ask for fees from their spouse. Most attorneys will respond that you may not. You should ensure that you have a credit card to put a retainer on, or cash saved in order to retain an attorney. Fees can be requested, but most attorneys will require an initial retainer in order to do so.
7. You may go for a period of time without financial support, so prepare accordingly.
Some people cut off the other spouse financially, completely, once the divorce is filed. That can be devastating and leave people without money to survive. I advise clients who are thinking of filing for divorce to take out a credit card in their own name, save cash here and there, buy gift cards for Walmart or Target, for gasoline, for groceries, etc., for nominal amounts to save for a rainy day, just in case they find themselves in a situation where they do not have access to money for a period of time.
Once a case is filed, the other party has to be served and then has 30 days from the date of service to file their appearance. So, there can be a period of time where everything is “on hold” and no support is granted to you. Plan accordingly.
8. If you are in a situation with domestic violence, plan out everything and utilize all resources available to you in your community.
In a domestic violence situation and you want to divorce, there are many things to consider:
- Do you need an order of protection before the divorce papers are served?
- Do you have an alternative place to live?
- When should your spouse be served?
- Where will you be?
- Where will your children be?
A good attorney can tell if an order of protection is needed as long as you are straightforward with them about your situation at home. There are also many domestic violence resources and organizations to assist you in our communities in Chicago and throughout Illinois. You will also find many places of worship and religious organizations experienced and willing to assist.
If you’re ready to speak with an experienced Chicago divorce lawyer contact Anderson & Boback. Taking that first step to speak with an attorney about your situation can help you determine whether you’re ready to go through with divorce.