Most couples who end up getting divorced usually see it coming months—if not years—before the papers are actually filed. It is not an uncommon scenario for a husband and wife to stay together long after they both realize their marriage is over. For anyone who is in this situation, there are steps that should be taken before the divorce process begins in order to ensure there is an equitable division of assets and no surprises for either party during divorce negotiations.
When contemplating divorce, the first step a person should take is to gather copies of all of the couple’s financial records, including:
- Bank statements, such as checking and saving accounts, certificate of deposits, etc.;
- Retirement account statements;
- Tax returns;
- Deeds to any properties, both jointly and solely owned;
- Mortgage statements and HUD documents;
- Home equity lines of credit statements;
- Property tax bills;
- Appraisals; and
- Rental receipts and leases for any rental property owned.
Any documents pertaining to financial accounts the couple owns should go back between three to five years if possible. All real estate documents should go back to when the couple purchased the property.
Assets and Debts
Once all financial documents have been gathered, the next step is to list all the assets the couple owns, as well as all the debt they owe. Illinois is an equitable division state, which means that any assets or property a couple has amassed during their marriage is subject to an equitable division upon divorce.
The courts do not necessarily look at whether or not a spouse’s name is on a bank account or on a property deed. If the asset was acquired during the marriage, then the court considers it part of the marital estate. There are some exceptions to this rule and a knowledgeable divorce attorney will help navigate through the property and asset division process.
Change Estate Planning Documents
There are several important estate planning decisions that a person considering divorce will have to make. For example, if he or she does not want his or her spouse to be able to make medical or end-of-life decisions, then he or she will need to either change or have a new living will or advanced directive drafted. Drafting a new will, removing his or her spouse from inheriting assets, may also need to be done. These are all decisions that a divorce attorney can guide you through.
Contemplating an Illinois Divorce?
If you are considering a divorce, or have already made the decision to end your marriage, contact a skilled Naperville divorce attorney to discuss your situation. Call Roscich & Martel Law Firm, LLC at (630) 793-6337 to schedule your confidential consultation today.