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What divorce does and does not do

Photo of Karen Lavin


Deciding to divorce is a big step, a decision with life-altering ripples. Before making that decision, Illinoisans should consider what divorce can do for them and, just as importantly, what it cannot do. Doing so will better arm them to decide whether to go through the emotion and expense of the process.

So what can divorce do? It can do three things. First, it can untangle the Gordian knot of shared finances over the course of the marriage.

Second, divorce can determine each spouse's ongoing support obligations to the other. These obligations can be twofold. It can include both the one spouse paying the other spouse alimony for a time; it can also include one spouse paying the other spouse child support.

Third, divorce can resolve child custody and visitation; specifically, who gets the kids and for how long as well as who gets to determine issues like where the child goes to school, what kind of medical treatment they receive, where they go to church (if at all) and so on.

That is an important list of things that divorce can do. But there are many important things that divorce cannot do. For one, it cannot promise equal division of property. Each case is different; each case involves limited information. These limitations practically guarantee some unhappiness over how property is split.

Divorce also cannot guarantee that the lifestyle a person has been accustomed to will continue. Basic economics virtually ensures the opposite because it is cheaper for two adults to live together than for two adults to live apart. In the first scenario, the adults can share the cost of rent, among other costs. In the second instance, the adults cannot pool their expenses.

Finally, divorce cannot cure emotional issues. A court will not punish your ex or mete out blame. Getting past these issues is for each spouse to do on their own or with the help of others.

To learn more, Illinoisans may benefit from discussing their situation with an experienced family-law attorney.

Source: FindLaw, "What is Divorce Good For?" Accessed Aug. 30, 2015

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