Whether to divorce may be the most significant decision in your life. While a divorce lawyer is unlikely to give you critical insight or guidance for certain personal aspects of such a decision, being informed about the process, law and possible outcomes should help you make the appropriate choice for you.
What are the consequences of a divorce I should examine?
- The psychological impact on the children of a divorce compared to the impact of on the children of a marriage in turmoil.
- The financial impact on you and the children.
- If you are on the paying end, how much of your income and property you will have after the divorce and whether a delay in bringing a divorce may hurt you financially.
- What emotional/mental health consequences will the divorce process have on me as weighed against the same consequences for staying in a bad marriage.
Should I keep the marriage together for the sake of the children?
A good recent article–April 2018–addressed how parents arguments affect the children. The article explains accurately that historically divorce has been reviewed as having damaging and lasting effects on children. But, the article emphasizes that it is now thought that it could be the arguments that take place between parents during and after the separation process that does the damage rather than the break-up itself. And in some cases where the parents remain married but he marriage is in turmoil, there can be negative impacts on the children. In short, it is parental conflict that can negatively impact the children, and it is certain types of parental conflict that can be particularly bad for children. In part it is for this reason that the Gitlin Law Firm believes that more couples should consider collaborative divorce—because it provides options that can help reduce any negative impact on the children.
I don’t want a divorce. Can I fight it?
You can fight for a divorce in the sense of urging counseling, trying to reconcile, etc. But—for better or worse—since January 1, 2016, Illinois law only has one “grounds” for divorce – what most people refer to as “no fault” divorce (irreconcilable differences). Once the spouses have been separated for six months in Illinois, there is what is called an irrebutable presumption that no fault grounds exists. Basically, that means that if the parties are living separately for more than six months if one spouses insists upon obtaining a divorce, there is a right to get divorced.
Does counseling work to bring a couple together?
It can but the person who is actively seeking a divorce has to be somewhat open to the possibility that reconciliation may work.
Generally, the earlier that counseling is sought the better are the chances for success. I have found that when a divorcing couple goes into late-stage marriage counseling, they each go into it with their own game plan. One party may do it for the sake of preserving the marriage, while the other party might agree to short-term counseling believe it may help pave the way for a less contentious divorce.
How can I determine if I can get along financially after the divorce?
For a quick answer I use the rule of safe harbor often used by mortgage houses: you need a net (spendable) income which is three times the amount of your cost of housing. But this fixes budgetary issues on a house mortgage and rarely should this be the driving factor. A far more accurate way of determining the amount of money you need is to make a reasonable budget.
I suspect my spouse of adultery. Should I hire a private investigator?
Not usually. I usually advise my clients against hiring a private investigator since there is only one grounds for divorce – no fault divorce.
Also keep in mind that the financial parts of a divorce, and allocation of parenting time / parenting responsibility are decided without considering marital misconduct.
A private investigator should only be hired on the advice of your lawyer. In the few instances where I have authorized hiring a private investigator I have put a cap on the fees to be paid to the private investigator.
If I file for divorce does my spouse have to leave the house?
Not necessarily. Yet often spouses agree to separate if the living situation becomes unmanageable.
Will separation for a time help solve marital problems?
No, not usually. My experience is that to resolve problems a couple must communicate. If you separate you either do not communicate, or you significantly cut down on communications. Statements like, “I need my space,” or “I need to get my head together” are usually malarkey. Usually the spouse wanting a “trial separation” is paving the way for a divorce.
Can’t I just leave the marital residence?
Yes. You do not lose your marital property interest in the house because you leave it. But if there is a potential issue regarding the parenting plan or allocation of parental responsibility (how major decisions are made) if you leave without the children in the primary care of your spouse, this may very well hurt you.