Some Illinois couples whose marriages are coming to an end might want to try negotiating a settlement agreement instead of going to litigation to have a judge decide how property will be divided and time with children will be allocated. This approach may be more satisfying for people who are well-prepared.
One of the first preparatory steps people should take is organizing finances. This can prevent them from an error like making a preliminary offer of spousal support that is actually unaffordable. This may also be helpful for an attorney in ascertaining how property might be divided and whether either spouse might pay support to the other. A meeting with an attorney might also be useful for a person in learning about state law and getting a sense of the worst and best outcomes that seem likely based on that person’s particular situation.
In order to get the most out of negotiations, people should have a sense of their own goals and priorities as well of those of their estranged spouse. This may begin with a budget that gives them a sense of needs and wants. They can then go into the negotiations with a list of priorities and may be able to get an agreement on most of them.
Some aspects of property division may be complex even if the two people are basically in agreement. For example, a home could introduce complications if neither spouse is able to buy out the other and the two are having trouble selling it. They may need to come up with creative solutions such as continuing to own the home and rent it out until the market is stronger. Another type of issue could arise in dividing retirement accounts. Their respective family law attorneys could be of assistance with the latter situation.