Preparing for Divorce in Chicago
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Your life is about to change.
This is your divorce. Your life. Your future.
The tough news is that divorce is a business transaction. You need solid legal and financial information to navigate the process. Emotions should not play a role in your ability to make solid business decisions, so it is important that you pay careful attention to the preparation of your case. Distribution of marital property, custodial agreements for your children, child support, and maintenance are all on the table.
A successful Illinois divorce requires preparation on three levels: emotional, financial, and legal. Before you initiate a divorce:
1. Get your documents in order.
This means make copies of important financial documents and keep them in a secure place (not in your house, car, or anywhere else to which your spouse has access). Both you and your spouse will need access to financial documents when your case is filed. Critical financial papers include tax returns, insurance policies, bank statements, investment accounts, salaries, and benefit or retirement program information. Keep your documents secure. Obtain a safe address for your personal mail.
2. Track your expenses.
Keep an accounting of all expenses with receipts, especially your children's expenses. (Download a copy of a disclosure statement. Click here.) There are simple computer bookkeeping programs that can assist you here. Save receipts. While still married and living together with your spouse, it is advisable to save all of the receipts for major purchases and prepare an inventory of all of the property and assets acquired during the marriage. Keep a current inventory of your safe deposit box.
3. Review and establish credit.
If you do not have it already, establish your own personal credit history (gasoline credit cards, department stores, and national credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard, etc.). Review your credit report and your spouse’s credit history. www.freecreditreport.com
4. Be prepared to open a bank account in your name.
Choose a bank that is separate from where you hold a joint account or where your spouse does business.
5. Do not commingle marital and non-marital property.
Any property you or your spouse had before you got married, or property that you inherited or received as a gift during your marriage is non-marital property. Keep all non-marital property separate from the marital estate. Do not put non-marital property into joint names with your spouse and do not use your non-marital money to pay for family expenses or purchases, or to pay down debts.
6. Don't quit your job.
Do not quit or leave your job if you are employed. It is important to maintain and secure your financial independence and earn enough to maintain assets such as your home.
7. Don't sign any papers.
Do not sign any documents, contracts, promissory notes, deeds, mortgages, etc. if your spouse requests you to do so. The consequences of signing any documents or papers may be irreparable and highly prejudicial to your legal and financial rights upon a divorce.
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Leslie has been the strongest representation I could ask for
Leslie has been the strongest representation I could ask for in a very complicated, emotional matter. She has continuously looked out for my best interest and the best interest of my son. She is always prompt in getting back to me and in keeping me well informed about my case.
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