Negotiation is one option for couples in Illinois who are getting a divorce. This can be less time-consuming and less expensive than litigation in some cases.

However, people need to understand their own situation in the context of Illinois law. The first step is to accurately assess finances. An attorney can explain a client’s obligations and rights as well as predicting the likelihood that one person will pay or receive spousal and child support. After getting an attorney’s opinion about the potential best and worst outcomes regarding property division and other issues, a person can decide whether negotiation seems like the right thing to do or if the marriage has deteriorated to the point that even mediation is likely to be unsuccessful.

People who do decide to go ahead with negotiation may be better prepared if they understand their own needs and those of their spouse. Putting together a budget is a good idea at this stage because it can help them to prioritize. The range of possibilities for support payments, whether a person expects to pay or receive them, should be included in this budget. A person who walks into a negotiation with a clear list of priorities may be more likely to get most of them met than someone who does not.

People’s priorities going into these negotiations may vary depending on where they are in life. For example, someone who is nearer to retirement may be more concerned about protecting a retirement account or making sure to get a share of it since there is less time to replenish those funds. This is where it also important to be realistic about the other spouse’s needs.