November 26, 2022

Volume XII, Number 330


Social Distancing, Coronavirus and…..Planning for Divorce???

We are facing very uncertain times at the moment.  With the WHO, CDC and the Federal Government’s guidelines on social distancing and recommendations against large gatherings, you may find yourself at home working remotely, or being stuck inside with your significant other and/or family, with seemingly no escape in sight.  There is a way, however, to put this time at home to good use (other than catching up on Netflix or good books) when it comes to planning for a divorce.  This is a great time to try and plan for the future if divorce is something you are contemplating or seriously considering.  Here are some tips to follow in the event you find yourself at home with spare time to prepare for a divorce case:

Gather and organize your financial documents.

Most divorcing parties exchange financial documents, particularly when they have accounts or debts in their own names.  Start by gathering three (3) years of your prior bank statements, credit card statements, investment account statements, retirement account statements, Federal and State Income Tax Returns, W-2’s/1099’s, year-end paystubs for the prior three (3) years, documents relative to any real estate you own, documents relative to any financial expectancies, documents showing that any property you own is non-marital; your resume, any other financial related documents, going back three (3) calendar years.  Organize these documents in date order and by year, in folders.  This will make it easy for you to refer back to these documents and it will also make it much easier for an attorney you hire to go through the documents while saving you attorney’s fees and costs associated with them having to organize the same.  Even if you do not have separate accounts, gathering the last three (3) years of all financial documents, even the joint ones, is helpful, as some attorneys will require these when drafting settlement proposals, or advising you on the distribution of the marital estate.  It is also very helpful to create a balance sheet, listing all known assets and the values, as of a (recent) date certain.  This will give an attorney you hire a very clear picture of your finances.

 Get a head start on filling out a Financial Affidavit form (available via google – there is an Illinois state wide form)

This form is almost always required to be filled out by both parties in a domestic relations case, whether it is a divorce or a parentage case, so long as some sort of support (child support or spousal support/maintenance) is involved.  This form is generally the first thing your attorney will ask you to complete, so it doesn’t hurt to take a look at it and get an idea of what you will have to provide as far as financial information is concerned.  To assist you in preparing this form, gather and organize your last twelve (12) months of bills, paystubs, expenses, receipts, and the like. (If you don’t use cash then your last twelve months of credit cards or checking account statements may suffice).  You will need to come up with the monthly amount of various expenses as well as your monthly income to fill out this form.  You will also need current account balances, to the best of your knowledge.  Taking a sneak peek at the form and gathering the relevant information to help you complete it will put you ahead of the game.

Organize your thoughts on Property Distribution

Making a punch list of property and how you want it distributed helps you to formulate a game plan with your attorney.  Perhaps there are certain items that you want the most (i.e. to keep the marital home) and perhaps there are certain things you don’t care as much about (taking part of your spouse’s retirement account).  Making a list of your “wants” versus “would like’s” versus what you do not want helps you to organize your thoughts and helps you to figure out with your counsel what your approach will be to your case.

Organize your thoughts on Child-related Issues (Allocation of Parental Responsibilities and Parenting Time)

Now is a great time to contemplate what sort of parenting time schedule would work best for your minor children.  Consider factors such as where you will be living, where your spouse will be living, distance from your respective places of residence to the child(ren)’s schools, and how facilitating transportation would work.  Think about things such as emergency plans for school closures and how those would work.  Concentrating on how to allocate holidays is also something to consider.  Do you want to share major holidays, such as Christmas, where one party takes Christmas Eve and the other takes Christmas Day? Or, do you want to take the entire Christmas holiday, to coincide with a week of Winter Break, to allow for travel?  Do you want Thanksgiving to be an entire week off of school, or just the day?  Going through a list of major holidays and sorting through what you want can be time-consuming, and you may just find yourself with some time to review this.

Organize and prepare to divide personal items

While stuck in the home, it is a great time to go through your personal property, and even to try and divide it up.  Courts do not like to determine issues relative personal property because, by the time the parties pay their attorneys to argue over who gets the 65 inch OLED TV, the parties probably could have bought several of them.  Parties are often encouraged to sort through and divide personal property on their own.  This would be one less thing to worry about!

Research attorney options

Do your due diligence when researching attorneys.  Not every attorney is a good fit for every case.  Personality and comfort really matter when you are choosing a divorce attorney.  This person will be guiding you through the unknown and very personal time in your life.  Look at websites, online reviews, and talk to people who have used the attorneys whom you may know. This will all help you make an informed decision about who is the right attorney to hire.

This posting is for educational purposes only to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this website you understand that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and the National Law Review and/or the author, and the options stated herein are the sole opinions of the author and do not reflect the views or opinions of the National Law Review or any of its affiliates.

Anderson & Boback Copyright © 2022 All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 79

About this Author

Jessica Marshall Family Law Attorney

Jessica Marshall is a real go-getter who stands up for what she believes in, which is fighting for your rights, and the rights of children. Jessica has a strong desire to help people and makes a difference with her clients and their families by taking action to help solve their problems.

Jessica Marshall is not afraid to fight for your rights, she is comfortable in the courtroom and respected by colleagues, judges and clients. Her achievements include participating in a successful win with an Appeal before the United States Court of Appeals....