The goal posts for divorce settlements in Illinois are set statutorily. Meaning, even the meanest, most expensive “litigation shark” cannot move the outcome of your divorce settlement far enough in one party’s favor to make it worth the emotional and financial trauma of a litigated divorce. If a proposed divorce settlement agreement leans too far toward one party over the other, it will be deemed unconscionable (outside the statutory goal posts), and the court will not grant your divorce. While your settlement agreement does not have to be fifty-fifty, it must be equitable (within the statutory goal posts).
Disavow yourself of the “Judge Judy” myth. In the distant past, divorce settlement agreements including distribution of assets and debts, maintenance, child support, and parenting schedules varied substantially between courts and judges. That is no longer true in Illinois. No matter what a low-down dirty rotten scoundrel one party to a divorce may be, it will not tip the settlement scale in favor of the aggrieved party (remember the statutory goal posts). There will never be a cathartic, realty television-worthy chance to air your grievances in open court. Unfortunately, too many litigation divorce attorneys willfully fail to disavow their clients of the “Judge Judy” myth because, naturally, it puts more money in their pockets and leaves less in yours. Harsh, but true.
Once the decision to divorce is made, you need to choose the process you want to use to get divorced. The three main options are divorce litigation (discussed above), divorce mediation and collaborative divorce. A brief summary of Divorce Mediation and Collaborative Divorce follows.
Divorce Mediation is a forward-focused, confidential divorce process where a neutral third-party divorce attorney pilots couples toward agreement on all legal issues (parenting schedules, maintenance, support, property distribution, pet parenting, etc.) that must be negotiated to get divorced. Divorce Mediation is conducted in a quiet, private neutral setting and is the least costly of the three divorce processes discussed here. Divorce Mediation is also far superior to litigation in that the process moves at your pace, on your schedule, and requires only one court appearance.
Collaborative Divorce is a multi-disciplinary divorce process that generally consists of a team that includes a lawyer for each party, a mental health professional and a financial neutral. Like Divorce Mediation, Collaborative Divorce is self-determinative, moves at your pace, on your schedule and requires only one court appearance. Collaborative divorce is particularly appropriate for couples who must continue respectful communications after the divorce to co-parent.
Once the decision to divorce has been made, choosing the best process to get divorced and preserving your financial and emotional resources is paramount. You are going to need your resources to begin the next chapter of your life with your best foot forward.
Lisa Wiemken is an attorney with North Shore Divorce Mediations & Family Law, LLC, 8170 McCormick Blvd. Suite 219, Skokie, Il 60076. Contact Lisa to learn more about choosing the best divorce process for you and your family. 847-213-0201 | firstname.lastname@example.org | northshoremediations.com