hand with a ring

A hand with a marriage ring

Couples who attempt to dissolve their marriages without divorce lawyers often make crucial mistakes in their settlement agreements. These errors can result in financial hardship and child custody disputes.

Do-It-Yourself Does not Equate to Fair

Illinois law allows married couples to divorce without legal representation, and some couples may feel they have considered and agreed to all necessary elements of their divorce agreement. Unfortunately, the fact that they agree to the terms of a divorce does not mean their do-it-yourself settlement is fair to both parties. What may appear equitable to the non-professional, can have serious long-term financial and parenting implications.

Financial Pitfalls

The division of finances and marital assets may seem straightforward. However, even the most basic division of assets involves critical factors that are frequently overlooked by non-professionals. For example:

Earning Power

While both parties may be employed and have sufficient income for current needs, this can change over time. One may have greater earning power while the other requires training for future wages to keep pace with living costs. Determining the long-term earnings impact of divorce requires skills many non-professionals do not possess.

Division of Assets

When it comes to dividing marital assets, Illinois is not a fifty-fifty state. The law requires an equitable distribution of assets. One party may be entitled to more than fifty percent to compensate for reduced income or other needs.

Alimony and Child Support

The amount of alimony, or spousal support, required is not fixed by law. Arriving at a fair alimony agreement requires professional analysis of the couple’s current and future financial prospects. 

Likewise, child support is not always a straightforward matter of providing food, clothing and shelter. Other support issues to consider include:

  • Medical costs
  • Education expenses
  • Special needs

Parenting Issues

A fair divorce settlement must include more than a simple custody arrangement. A detailed parenting plan helps prevent disputes over parenting responsibilities. Such plans include responsibility for discipline, education, social activities, grandparent visitation, and the myriad other issues that make up a child’s family experience. Without this plan, children may suffer needlessly while parents waste time in disputes.

Impacts the Entire Family

The dissolution of a marriage is a serious matter. Non-professionals often do not consider all elements of the divorce agreement that can impact the entire family.