Divorce can be financially difficult for everyone involved. Some Illinois courts divide property according to principles of equity (or fairness), though this does not necessarily mean that the property will be divided equally. There are some steps divorcing spouses can take to protect themselves financially during a divorce.

A good first step is to take stock of the household finances. If one spouse has been managing the budget, the adjustment may be more difficult for the spouse who has not been handling the bills.

The next step in planning for a divorce should be focusing on necessities first, such as where to live. If a couple owns a home together, one spouse may decide they want to keep it. Keeping the house can be expensive due to maintenance, repairs, insurance and other costs. Therefore, it’s important for a spouse who wants to keep the marital home to weigh all available options.

Planning for retirement is another important consideration. Couples who have been married for 10 years or more may be eligible to receive half of their spouse’s retirement benefits. Divorcing spouses may also be eligible to receive a share of each other’s 401(k) contributions. Division of this type of asset requires completion of a “qualified domestic relations order” or QDRO.

Divorcing spouses will also want to consult legal counsel. A divorce lawyer may be able to assist clients who wish to reach an agreement regarding property division in order to keep the property that they most value. An attorney may also assist with other important issues that come up in divorce, such as decisions regarding child custody, child support, alimony and visitation plans. After a divorce has been finalized, an attorney may also be able to assist with any necessary modifications to any previous orders if circumstances have changed since the divorce.