Five Things to Think About When Preparing for Divorce
While each divorce is different, many people have similar concerns when taking the first step down this path.
Here are a few of the most common questions we hear during the initial consultation – as well as guidance on ways to address each issue.
What should I do with our bank accounts?
Spouses often want to start separating cash accounts as soon as possible because it feels like the an action they can take right away. However, it is important to keep in mind that until your divorce is finalized, all assets are jointly owned and any accounts in which you have contributed money earned during the marriage is considered marital income.
Dividing bank accounts is an option if you and your spouse plan to work together during the divorce process. But if there is distrust in the relationship, then dividing the accounts without a prior agreement could lead to immediate court intervention, as discussed next.
What happens when a spouse is draining funds?
If your spouse cuts you off from marital assets, which includes separating bank accounts, immediate court action is likely needed. A Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) will freeze the account your spouse is attempting to drain until you and your spouse meet in front of a judge or mediator. A judge will sometimes allow for a predistribution of funds from the shared account prior to the freezing so that neither party is cash-poor during litigation.
What if I want to buy a car or a house during my divorce?
It is important to remember that until you are officially divorced, any purchases made during the divorce process are considered marital property. It is understandable for one party to want to buy a car or a house in an attempt to start separating themselves from their spouse, however, it is best to create a written agreement with your spouse regarding these isolated purchases. This agreement should detail the amount of money you are taking from which account, as well as confirmation that the property will be yours when the divorce is finalized.
What is mediation?
Mediation is an option for couples who are willing to work together to reach an agreement outside of court. A mediator steps in as a third-party neutral to facilitate discussion between the individuals.
Many people are not aware courts often require parents to attend mediation as a first attempt to reconcile any issues regarding children. In fact, Cook County provides the option of mediation through the county at no cost to the parties. This includes scheduling two dates with a mediator to discuss items such as:
- Parenting time
- Holiday schedule
- Decision-making with regards to education
- Protocol for medical treatment
- Extracurricular activities
- Traveling out-of-state and out-of-country
- General goals of each parent in raising minor children
Another option is for the parties to engage in private mediation at their own cost. In this setting, couples can address financial issues in addition to the parenting concerns covered in county mediation.
How long is my divorce going to take?
This is truly the million-dollar question. Everyone wants to know how quickly they can be divorced and get past this emotionally difficult time.
There are several factors that contribute to the speed at which you can move through the process. Are you and your spouse amicable? Have you discussed the terms of your divorce already, and are you both in agreement?
It is common for a spouse to delay the process because they do not want to get divorced or because they want to stay financially connected to you. Delays can also stem from the attorney representing your spouse, whether intentional or not. The court system itself may slow down the process, as family law judges have a large number of cases on their docket and need to schedule court dates out months at a time.
Kogut & Wilson can provide guidance and support on all types of family law matters, including divorce. To become better informed on how to prepare for divorce, schedule a free 30-minute consultation with one of our attorneys.