Illinois Divorce and Family Law Weblog

Helping You and Your Family get through DivorceSM.
Weblog of DuPage County Attorney Raiford D. Palmer, focusing on divorce and family law.
(Copyright© 2005-2008 by Raiford D. Palmer. All rights reserved.) This blog is for advertising only and the contents are not legal advice.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Illinois Divorce Lawyer -- The "Fine Print"

Ok, here goes...

We are not your attorneys. Well, if you hired us and signed a fee agreement, we are your attorneys (and we thank you)! But by simply reading these articles, you are not our client. We give these general comments and tips to provide general guidance to the community. The information here may be wrong in several ways:

1. It may not be correct in your country, state, or county. We are licensed to practice law in Illinois only.

2. We don't know your specific situation, which could drastically change our answer or advice.

3. You never hired us (unless you did hire us, in which case we stand humbly corrected)!

4. The law may change and I may not have updated these posts.

5. I may be wrong (my Mom and I would like to think I'm perfect, but everyone else knows better)!

So you have been duly warned. We hope these articles are useful for you, but they are no substitute for legal advice.

The best bet is to call attorney Raiford Palmer at 630.434.0400 Ext. 165 for a free consultation, or discuss your case with another Illinois divorce attorney.

Illinois Divorce Law -- I'm Getting Divorced...What do I do first?

You just decided (or found out) that you are going to get divorced. What to do first? Please call attorney Raiford Palmer at 630.434.0400 Ext. 165 for a free consultation. If you can't reach us right away though, here are some tips for your own protection:

1. Get copies of whatever financial records you can get your hands on. Don't destroy or remove records permanently, just copy everything you can find. Bank statements, brokerage firm statements, last three years of tax returns, recent pay stubs, current statement for the mortgage, car loans, and current bills. Copies of any life insurance policies (especially the declarations pages -- these show the value of the policy and the effective dates).

2. Close joint credit card accounts. You don't need your spouse running up the joint card. Time to close it out (at least to prevent new charges) and get an individual account if you don't have one already.

3. Open an individial bank account (or more). Transfer your money from any joint account to these accounts to protect it in the short term. Get your paychecks placed in this account, not your former joint account. This is not to say you should avoid sharing household bills in the meantime. You should agree on some division of the bills at this stage to help avoid unnecessary litigation. This should be fair and based on your relative incomes and the type of expense (don't contribute to his car, but do split the electric bill in some proportion).

4. Start to prepare your financial and life "battle plan." Where will you live? Can you afford the bills? If you have the kids, what are those expenses? Calculate a ballpark value for what you can expect to be paid in the divorce (or pay out)...check my child support article below for ideas on that. Remember that child support will be cut off at age 18 or so. Figure some amount for maintenance (formerly alimony) if you have been married over ten years, or developed a chronic medical problem while married that limits your ability to work. Just to work in very rough numbers, figure 10-15% of the spouse's net income additonal for maintenance, then project that for one year, three, and five. If your marriage is very long (over 20 years) and there is a serious income imbalance, you may be entitled to equalization--where the spouse will have to pay you such that your annual income will equal the higher earner's income. We recommend speaking with an accountant or financial planner to get a picture of the future as soon as possible. This will help guide your decisions during the divorce and beyond.

5. If you are physically or emotionally threatened by your spouse, call the police first if it is that serious. If you are being harassed by the spouse, Please call attorney Raiford Palmer at 630.434.0400 Ext. 165 for a free consultation. Alternatively go into court as soon as possible for your county and apply for an Order of Protection. You will need to fill out some forms, tell the truth on those forms, then later you will testify under oath to a judge about the reasons for the order.

These tips should help you get moving in the earlier stages of your divorce. Obviously these are not solutions for everyone in all situations, and since these articles do not constitute legal advice (by simply reading this you do not become a client of ours) please consult an attorney in any case to be sure you are doing the right thing.