At the Law Offices of Jonathan Merel in Chicago, Illinois, we believe in making the divorce process easy and stress-free for our clients. Our team has outlined the basic ways that you can prepare to file for divorce in Chicago in an effort to make that first intimidating step is as simple as possible.
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One thing that you should know about legal processes is that they often involve a lot of paperwork. Divorce in Illinois is no exception. Even before you officially file a divorce petition, you should already be thinking about the paperwork that will make your divorce smoother. While there is a potentially long list of documents that can help based on the details of your divorce, it is still useful to know some of the basics that most divorces require.
Our team of divorce attorneys will usually ask you to provide copies of:
- Recent paystubs and W-2s
- Recent utility bills
- Recent mortgage statements
- Statement for any ongoing loans
- Secured debts
- Medical and health insurance bills
- Bank, savings, and investment statements
- Retirement and 401(k) information
- Life insurance policies
- Three or more years of tax returns
- Detailed list of common child-related expenses
- Approximate monthly family budget
Keep in mind that we aren’t asking to see confidential financial information right away. Statement overviews are a good place to start in most cases. If we need more information, then we will discuss that when the day comes. You can always rest assured that we keep anything that you tell or show us tightly secure and confidential.
Other Documentation That You Can Provide
The more information that you can tell our divorce lawyers at the start of your case, the better work we can do for you. We encourage you to catalog any information that you think might be important for us to know that hasn’t been provided as a copy of an official document.
For example, you can create a written inventory of your valuable property, including real estate, appliances, expensive jewelry, and more. On that list, you can provide the date that you acquired it, an estimate of its value, and whether it should be considered separate or marital property. Illinois uses equitable distribution rules for property division, so getting this information sooner than later can help us protect assets that should belong to you when the divorce is finished.
Another important yet basic step to take before you file for divorce is thinking about your children and their well-being. Illinois divorce and family law courts must rule in favor of a child’s best interests, not yours nor your spouse’s. With this in mind, you can tell us what we should know about your child and their care ahead of time, so we can anticipate the best way to navigate a child custody situation. We can also discuss with you if it would make sense to appoint a guardian ad litem and what documents will be needed now to make that happen.
The last thing to consider right now before you start your divorce is your privacy. Once your divorce has begun, it could already be too late to take steps to keep your soon-to-be ex-spouse out of your private matters.
Four steps to take right now to preserve your privacy are:
- Make a P.O. box: Create a P.O. box in your name and do not give your spouse the authority to access it. As your divorce progresses, any important documents that you need to be mailed to you should go there. Also, you should go through your accounts and work information to update mailing addresses to the P.O. box where needed.
- Change your passwords: Any digital account that you control individually like your email account or laptop should get a new password. Even if your spouse doesn’t know your password now, you should consider making a new one, just in case they actually do know.
- Lock your social media accounts: Update the passwords of your social media accounts and then lock them. Typically, posting to social media while a divorce is pending is risky. You never know what post will be misconstrued by your spouse to make you look irresponsible. It is for the best to take a hiatus from social media.
- Open a private financial account: Don’t forget that you will want to protect your private finances going forward. Real trouble can begin quickly if you and your spouse can’t agree on who should be able to spend what as a divorce progresses. Go to your bank and open a private financial account and/or line of credit in your name only. You can explain that it is important that your spouse is not notified of the new accounts. The bank clerk will have to keep it confidential.
Now that you know how to prepare for the first steps of divorce in Illinois, we hope you feel ready to get it started. Of course, for any questions or concerns, you can always come to the Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C. in Chicago. We are proud to be known as the law firm that takes complex and painful legal situations for our clients and makes them less difficult, less stressful, and less time-consuming. With one-on-one attention from your attorney and the backing of a full legal staff, we know that you’ll be ready for whatever divorce throws at you.
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