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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 lawyerThroughout history, the typical family dynamic included a husband, wife, and children living in a home together. However, in 2022, blended families have become normalized and accepted into mainstream culture. It used to be standard for a man and woman to marry, have children, and live together. Today, many families live together and share finances, property, and children without being legally married. There are legal protections for unmarried couples living together to ensure their rights are protected. One way partners can protect these rights is through a cohabitation agreement.

Who Can Obtain a Cohabitation Agreement?

Cohabitation agreements are legally recognized documents that outline the rights of unmarried couples living together. These couples include unmarried partners who are in a long-term, intimate relationship. In many states, these relationships are known as common-law marriages. The National Conference of State Legislatures defines common law marriage as a marriage acknowledged by the state without the partners obtaining a legitimate marriage license. Common-law marriages are only accepted in a handful of American states, and Illinois is not one of the states that approve common-law marriages. This is why it is essential for unmarried, long-term partners who share property and finances to create a cohabitation agreement to protect their assets. 

geneva divorce lawyer Divorcing your spouse can be extremely complicated, challenging, and emotionally draining. Not only are there many legal and financial considerations to consider, but tensions can arise when partners begin to discuss how to divide marital property and start separate lives. Contested divorces occur when both partners are unable to come to an agreement on a decision in the divorce. Couples have the option to litigate their divorce. However, this can be both time-consuming and expensive. Other alternative dispute resolutions include hybrid mediation to assist partners during a difficult divorce. 

What are Alternative Dispute Resolutions?

When a divorce is contested and disagreements rise between spouses, it can be challenging to reach a mutual decision. Couples must decide how joint assets are divided, if one spouse will owe another spousal support, and if there are children involved, how parents will divide parental responsibilities and parenting time. 

Alternative dispute resolutions are options for couples to work alongside a mediator who can facilitate productive communication between both parties and conclude the divorce without a court battle. 

kane county divorce lawyerDuring a divorce, it is crucial that the assets of both parties are openly shared and considered for matters such as dividing assets and setting a financial limit for spousal support. But what happens if a spouse is hiding assets? There are a few ways people tend to hide finances, whether physical items or money. If you are suspicious that your spouse is hiding income or assets as you prepare for a divorce, reach out to an attorney that is prepared to uncover any hidden assets and fight for your right to an equitable divorce. Here are five signs that your spouse may be hiding assets. 

Overpaying Taxes

By overpaying your taxes, the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will refund the excess money back to you. If your spouse has been overpaying their taxes, it may be a sign that they are hiding the extra money returned to him or her. This process is essentially a way to receive money in the future without having to share it during the divorce.  

Failing to Report Commission, Tips, or Financial Bonuses 

When someone chooses not to report extra income they are receiving, such as tips or commission that is separate from their typical income, they can easily hide that money from a spouse or attorney. Most of the time, a spouse will have a general idea of how much money his or her partner makes, especially if they have shared expenses such as a mortgage or car payments. However, a spouse can easily pocket bonuses from work by failing to report them, which leaves the other partner unaware of these funds.

Kane County Family Law AttorneyWhether you have heard of a cohabitation agreement or not, you might need one if you are living with but not married to your romantic partner. It is becoming increasingly common for couples to live together in long-term, committed relationships without choosing to legally marry. The reasons couples may elect not to marry are numerous and varied. Some simply do not see the need for a “piece of paper” to show commitment. Others prefer to avoid legal entanglement. 

However, in the event that such a relationship ends, there is likely to be a legal entanglement of some type anyway, often in the form of joint property or even children in common. A cohabitation agreement can help you address how certain issues would be settled should you split, or should one of you pass away. These agreements may be the best way for unmarried couples to legally protect themselves. 

What Are the Benefits of a Cohabitation Agreement?

When a married couple splits, they must go through formal divorce proceedings. During a divorce, a court oversees the equitable distribution of marital property and addresses any child custody concerns. No such process exists when unmarried couples split. A cohabitation agreement can help with: 

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