So you have made that difficult decision to obtain a divorce, what’s next?

When I meet with prospective clients, I always ask whether he or she believes that the marriage is irretrievably broken down. If a need arises, I offer prospective clients a list of potential marriage counselors and therapists to see if the marriage can be repaired in some fashion. Contrary to certain myths, divorce lawyers do not cause divorces. We are there to protect your rights and interests in a dissolution of marriage proceeding.

Divorce is never easy. Without question, it is one of life’s most difficult decisions, sometimes requiring courage and hopefully, significant thought.

If you have finally reached the decision to divorce your spouse, first, focus on your well-being. Irrespective of the reasons for the breakdown of the marriage or whose fault it was, it is a highly emotional time. After the initial separation, new routines will be scheduled. Friendships and family relationships effected. There will be a potential loss of secondary income to help defray monthly expenses. These are just some of the new things that will need to be adjusted. It takes time.

Ensure your mental health is operating at its optimum. Take some time to cool off and reflect. Focus on yourself.

As a caveat, I am not a licensed therapist, psychiatrist, nor a psychologist. In fact, I have no medical training whatsoever, however; I am a divorce attorney who has been listening to clients for the past seven years.

Second, think about the finances. Remember, the State of Illinois is a no-fault state. In other words, the court distributes marital property without any regard for marital misconduct. The divorce laws of State of Illinois generally treat disposition of marital property, as if the court were dissolving a business partnership. There are several factors the court examines in such distribution. Remember, each case is different. What your friend might have received in the divorce, certainly does not mean that you may be entitled to the same.

If you have not done so already, begin organizing bank account statements, pay-stubs, tax returns, real estate documents, credit card statements, list of debts, and the like. Some of these items may be critical in my analysis of your financial rights. When you first meet with me, it will be more efficient to review your initial financial disclosure statement, itemizing your monthly income, expenses, debts, and assets.

Trust me, an organized client saves time and money.