Illinois couples who are facing the end of their marriage are likely aware that their financial situations will change as a result of having to now live on one income. There may be more immediate financial consequences as well. In addition to the professional fees and court costs associated with a divorce, people who will be moving out of the family home and into a rental will likely have to pay two months’ rent in advance along with a security deposit. A new residence often has to be furnished as well.

In anticipation of property division, people who are contemplating filing for divorce or who have a hint that they are going to be served need to know as much as possible about the couple’s marital assets and obligations. Copies should be made of tax returns, bank and retirement account statements and outstanding invoices. Pictures should be taken of antiques, artwork and household furnishings, as some items can have a tendency to “disappear” at this stage.

All of this information should be in hand in advance of the first meeting with a family law attorney. Although it may be tempting to retain a friend or a neighbor who practices law, it is best to obtain the services of one who has direct experience in this practice area.

At the initial meeting, the attorney might outline the various forms that the divorce proceedings could take. Although the common perception is one of two estranged spouses and their attorneys fighting over every matter in a courtroom, most don’t reach that stage. Many divorces, even those where many issues are in dispute, can be resolved through negotiations conducted by the parties’ respective attorneys.