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geneva divorce lawyerIf you have been browsing divorce topics, you have likely seen countless articles urging you to consider divorce mediation or attorney-facilitated negotiation as a means of resolving your divorce out of court. Collaborative divorce is another common alternative resolution method during divorce. Collaborative divorce requires both parties to actively participate, and to do so in good faith. A mutual willingness to compromise is a necessity. Either spouse, unfortunately, has the power to delay or frustrate the process. If no agreement can be reached after substantial efforts have been made, you will be left with no option but to resort to divorce litigation. In some cases where it is abundantly clear that mediation or negotiations are likely to fail, it may be more prudent to make litigation your plan from the outset. An experienced attorney can assess your situation and help you decide whether yours is a divorce that cannot be settled out of court. 

Situations Suggesting That Collaborative Divorce or Mediation May Not Succeed

No matter how willing to compromise you are, mediation efforts will generally be futile if your spouse does not share your willingness. Circumstances that may suggest that mediation and  collaborative divorce may be insufficient include: 

  • Abuse - If your spouse has abused you or your children in any way at all, it suggests that they are not the type of person who can settle their disagreements in the rational manner demanded by collaborative divorce. Additionally, attempting to negotiate with them directly and outside a courtroom setting may provoke them or be emotionally distressing to you. It also opens the door for threats to be made to force the abused party to comply with the abuser’s demands. 
  • Severe mental illness - If your spouse has a severe mental illness like Borderline Personality Disorder or Bipolar Disorder, their illness may impact their ability to participate in negotiation or mediation in a productive manner. They may be more interested in placing blame on you than in reaching an agreement. 
  • Substance abuse - People who are almost always intoxicated are not known for their ability to keep their commitments. It can be difficult to get a person with a substance use disorder to show up for scheduled mediation sessions or to return communications promptly and use comprehensible language. 
  • Extreme conflict - While you certainly do not need to be amicable with your spouse to reap the benefits of collaborative divorce, you do need to be capable of communicating without fighting. If negotiating with your spouse would cause emotional distress and escalating conflict, it may be best to go to court. 

These are only a few examples of circumstances that may suggest that alternative resolution methods are not right for you. You should discuss your concerns with a qualified attorney. 

Posted on in Divorce

geneva famly law attorneyIn Illinois, if you want to get your marriage annulled, you can petition the court for a Declaration of Invalidity. Many people assume they can easily get their marriage annulled. However, it is more difficult to receive an annulment than a divorce, contrary to the commonly held belief that divorce is more difficult to achieve. 

A Declaration of Invalidity of Marraige deems a marriage invalid. Divorce ends a marriage. Annulment, on the other hand, states that a marriage was never valid to begin with. 

To get a marriage annulled in Illinois, there must be proof of impotence, bigamy, or proof that one party was unable to consent at the time of the marriage. This may be due to coercion, force, or the influence of alcohol or drugs. If an individual was underage at the time of marriage commencement, that is also proof of invalidity of marriage. Though these examples may seem simple enough to prove, it is often difficult to provide sufficient evidence. This is demonstrated in the court’s seldom practice of granting Declarations of Invalidity outside of the circumstance in which one spouse was under the age of consent. 

Posted on in Divorce

b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_488289283-1.jpg Divorces can run the gamut from relatively quick and easy when a couple is amicable to long, drawn-out, and contentious when they are not. If you are expecting the former, it can be tempting for you and your spouse to forego attorneys altogether and attempt to accomplish your divorce without help. Going through a divorce unrepresented can put you at a considerable disadvantage, whether you realize it or not. You may not be fully aware of the rights that you have, and a divorce can go from amicable to disastrous in the blink of an eye. Remember that you and your spouse are splitting for a good reason and strongly consider getting legal help from the start, even if you think you could go it alone. 

What Are Some Things that Could Go Wrong if I Get Divorced Without a Lawyer?

Getting your own legal counsel is extremely unlikely to make your divorce more difficult under any circumstances, but failing to do so could cause problems. Going into a divorce unrepresented is a risky option for reasons like: 

  • Amicability changes - It might seem like you and your spouse are still friendly despite the breakdown in your romantic relationship and will have no issue handling the divorce alone. However, this could change very quickly. You could discover that your spouse’s personality or demands change when they begin dating someone else, or you could experience much more conflict than you initially thought over certain issues. 
  • Secrets emerging - Can you say for certain that your spouse is not hiding any money or assets that you should be entitled to a share of? Probably not - it is more common than you might think. Finding out midway through a divorce that your spouse has a retirement account you did not know about can be a huge setback. An attorney will be able to locate secret assets during the discovery process. 
  • Sticking points - Most couples find that there is at least one issue they simply cannot agree on. Child custody concerns are a common sticking point. When you and your spouse reach an impasse, you may have little choice but to seek help from a lawyer. It is generally easier if the attorney has been representing you from the start as opposed to entering your case at a late stage. 

Divorce attorneys are often quite good at minimizing conflict if that is your goal. Hiring a lawyer is not likely to turn an amicable divorce into a contentious one, but the reverse could be true for some. 

Geneva Divorce LawyerPets are not just property to their owners. They are companions. Many consider them family members. Further, they are living, breathing, feeling, beings. People love their pets in a way that they do not love their couch, rug, or even car in most cases. If you and your spouse adopted a pet together and are now getting a divorce, you will need to address who will have custody of the pet and who will provide for its needs. A qualified divorce attorney can help you work out your pet custody concerns as one important part of resolving your divorce. 

What Should I Know About Pet Custody Issues in a Divorce?

In some divorce cases, one spouse is happy to let the other take “their” pet. In others, the spouses adopted a dog together, or have both grown attached to a cat over the years. Neither spouse may be willing to completely part with their beloved pet, so animal custody can become quite a contentious issue for some couples. Fortunately, there are solutions in Illinois. If you are faced with pet custody issues in your divorce, you should know: 

  • Joint custody - Illinois courts can now grant joint custody over a pet. Both spouses must be able to care for the pet and must agree to share custody. You and your spouse would need to reach an agreement somewhat similar to a parenting plan. This agreement would cover who will have physical possession of the pet and when, in addition to who will be financially responsible for the pet’s needs. Veterinary care can be quite expensive, so it is important that this is carefully addressed. 
  • Pet’s well-being - Just as you may be emotionally attached to your pet, your pet may be emotionally attached to you in return. Judges in Illinois can now consider both the emotional as well as physical well-being of the pet itself in deciding who the pet should spend time with going forward. Whether you or your spouse is physically able to adequately care for the pet independently will also be important. 
  • Property - Legally, pets are still considered property, although many pet owners do not like to think about it that way. Equitable division of property principles can come into play. 

Addressing ownership of a pet in divorce cases can become quite complex. You may need a skilled attorney to help you find an arrangement that works in your case. 

kane county divorce lawyerAnyone who has been through a divorce or is currently in the middle of divorce proceedings would likely agree that finalizing a divorce can be a complicated and contentious feat. When substantial assets and high net worth are involved, the complexities and conflicting opinions can increase exponentially. If you are facing a high-asset divorce in Illinois, there are steps you can take to make the process as smooth as possible and help you to achieve a successful settlement in the end.

Identify and Organize All Assets

While building a comprehensive list of all of your assets may not be the first thing that comes to mind at the onset of a divorce, identifying and organizing all assets as soon as possible is incredibly important. It is also important that you are completely transparent when creating this list. If it is discovered that assets are being hidden, it can have a detrimental impact on the determined settlement that one receives. This includes attempting to liquidate, devalue, or transfer ownership of any assets. 

Take the time to build an inventory of your property ahead of time. It is also recommended to make copies of documents and records as these may be unavailable when divorce proceedings begin. 

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