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Planning ahead can yield better results in divorce negotiations

Once an Illinois couple decides to seek a separation and a divorce, the spouses can be left wondering how to proceed. Since most state laws actually maintain that a couple’s assets must be divided equitably and not equally, taking time to prepare is the best way to make sure that each spouse receives what’s fair.

Before any property division takes place, it’s a good idea to gather all relevant documents. These documents include tax records, insurance policies, records from brokerage accounts, leases or mortgage documents, trust agreements and living wills. Each spouse should have documents that identify the couple’s assets as specifically as possible.

Opening individual checking, savings and credit card accounts is another step that should be taken. Any direct deposit salary should go into an individual account. If there’s a joint credit card, the company should be notified and the other spouse should be taken off the account. Since life continues between separation and divorce, the couple should also establish an escrow or joint account to pay for the family expenses while the proceedings are going on.

Child support also needs to be established, keeping in mind that the well-being of the children should be the priority. The couple also needs to establish how they will pay for college costs and healthcare. If one of the spouses has better healthcare, the children should be able to stay under that person’s insurance with fairly divided costs.

A decision needs to also be made about who is keeping the house. Though it’s a major asset, a house also comes with many additional financial responsibilities. Retirement benefits should also be negotiated since they can be another sizable amount of the couple’s assets. Even during the preparation and planning process, the advice of a lawyer can be very valuable in making the decisions that will result in a fair divorce settlement.

Source: Huffington Post, “We’re Getting A Divorce, Now What?“, July 29, 2013