Does it feel like it’s time to get serious about getting divorced? If you’re thinking that now is the time to get the proverbial wheels in motion, you may be looking to hire a divorce lawyer. Good legal representation is important, especially if the divorce is going to be complex or there are children, high-value assets involved, or a hostile situation with your estranged spouse. Regardless of whether it feels like a simple case of divorce or not, being prepared is essential.
But before you sit down with a divorce lawyer in Chicago, there are some important steps you will want to take first. Most lawyers will go over an extensive checklist with you to help you prepare for the next steps and it might seem overwhelming to act before getting legal advice but getting prepared beforehand can help your lawyer get some of the answers you need sooner and even more importantly—it can help you thwart disaster if your estranged spouse gets upset and takes action after finding out you’ve seen a divorce lawyer.
Sometimes divorces are civil and both parties cooperate. But if your spouse is going to be surprised or you suspect they will be particularly hostile at your filing for divorce, getting some things lined up in advance could be important for you—saving you time and helping you gather important facts as well as being prepared for what’s to come.
Important steps include:
- Gather personal information and document as much as possible
- Gather all financial information
- Get prepared with an action plan, laying the foundation for your future
Personal Info Personal information is important. Write down names, dates, and other information such as: your spouse’s social security number, childrens’ names and birth dates, spouse’s previous marital or dependent information, employer names, salary information, and educational info. You’ll want to make a list of any dates and specific instances that support any claims you are about to make regarding the divorce proceedings. Photocopy documentation wherever possible.
You should gather extensive info and safeguard it elsewhere in case your spouse removes documents from the home or data from the family computer.
Financial information is vital. You need to write down all account info for checking accounts, savings accounts, credit cards, and any / all household bills and liabilities for both of you. You will also want to note information about investments, all assets, retirement plans, and information about any and all insurance policies. Consider obtaining credit reports for both of you so that you can be prepared and are not about to be unpleasantly surprised. Tax documents for the past several years will also be helpful.
Getting on with your life may be something you’re anxious for but careful preparation is vital. Before you start divorce proceedings, you’ll want to make sure you have your own bank account and that you can access funds so you won’t be in for any surprises if your estranged spouse removes money from joint accounts. If you are staying in the family home, you will need to know if utilities payments are up to date.
Do you have transportation? Can you access vital information about finances or assets? Are you within your legal rights to remove children from the home, change locks, or take money or assets with you if you are leaving? Divorce can be very complex and the right information can help you get through it with the most favorable outcome possible.
Your divorce lawyer can help you with specific issues such as custody, support, setting up divorce mediation, advising you of your financial rights and your responsibilities, and any other legal issues you need to be aware of. But, gathering as much information beforehand and having a plan of action for your future is important.
Need help understanding your rights, responsibilities, and in getting legal advice for divorce in IIllinois? Petrelli Law focuses on complex and high asset divorce mediation and has been featured in the Wall Street Journal. Gather as much information about your situation as possible and then contact Petrelli Law for a consultation.
Note: Certain information will be specific to the state of Illinois so it’s important to gather information relevant to your specific situation.