For couples who are contemplating divorce or are already in the divorce process, an amicable ending can sometimes seem like a lofty and unrealistic goal. The bottom line is, if you can still communicate effectively then you can try to work together to reach a settlement of your marital estate which can save you time and money, hence an amicable ending.
The question many people have at this juncture is, “What do we need to talk about? or “Where do we start?” I often suggest that each party individually create a list, with supporting documentation of the following: monthly and annual income (gross and net), all assets and their values (such as bank accounts, fair market value of a home, retirement accounts, investment accounts, fair market value of a vehicle, cash value of any life insurance policy and the like) and all liabilities (such as mortgages, liens, loans, credit cards, student loans and the like). Once that list is completed by each person then it will allow the parties to come to the table, together, and share what list and documents they have compiled. It should be a full and complete disclosure of the entire marital (and non-marital estate) to now open up the lines of communication about what each party may want and how that allocation can take place.
Couples must keep in mind that it can become tricky at this point, as issues such as maintenance, child support and allocation of these disclosed assets and liabilities are governed by statute. Because of the intricate laws and uniqueness of how they apply to each case it is strongly recommended that each party retain an attorney (if they have not already done so) to ensure that they are well versed in the law and can then work with the attorneys to draft and implement settlement terms into a final Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage incorporating a Marital Settlement Agreement. Open communication with each other and the attorneys should streamline this process and hopefully allow you to have that amicable (and swift) ending at a much lesser cost both financially and emotionally.
Jennifer R. Ward has an undergraduate degree from the University of Missouri – Columbia in Journalism and is the founder of WARD FAMILY LAW, LLC. Ms. Ward was admitted to the Illinois bar in 2002 and continues to exclusively practice matrimonial and family law in the Chicagoland area. Additionally, Ms. Ward has been Adjunct Faculty at the John Marshall Law School since 2005 and teaches family law legal drafting to law students in a Legal Writing program that U.S. News and World Report ranked as #5 in the Country. Ms. Ward also had the honor of speaking at the “Leaving a Long-Term Marriage” workshop produced by The Lilac Tree, an Evanston-based not-for-profit resource for women contemplating divorce.
You can find Jennifer R. Ward, Founder of WARD FAMILY LAW, LLC at www.wardfamilylawchicago.com or you can follow her on Facebook @WardFamilyLaw, Instagram @divorcerer, Google Plus @Wardfamilylawchicago and Twitter @WardFamLawIL