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To negotiate or litigate: five questions to ask when divorcing

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Divorce is a trying time for many Illinoisans as they face often-difficult family law decisions over alimony, child custody, child support and other issues. How contentious making those decisions may be is yet another choice Illinoisans should make during the early stages of a divorce.

In order to make that choice, Illinoisans may want to ask themselves five questions. First, how well do they and their soon-to-be ex-spouse communicate? If that communication remains good, and the couple still has the ability to talk through decisions about finances or the children, cooperation may be possible.

Second, how important is money? If both sides want to conserve it, they should try to keep the rancor to a minimum because every call, letter, meeting and court filing means a bigger attorney bill.

Third, how important is it to wrap the divorce up quickly? For example, sometimes one spouse will want to get the divorce concluded so that they can get married to someone else. If speed is an issue, choosing a cooperative route is more likely to achieve that result.

Fourth, how much respect remains in the marriage? Respect, even in the absence of love, offers a promising starting point for negotiation. Where it does not exist, however, negotiation may not be possible.

And, finally, how important is privacy? Litigation documents and judicial orders typically are matters of public record. Put differently, that means the public (including family, friends and even the press) can freely read them. If those documents contain dirty laundry best kept out of the public eye, negotiation rather than litigation may be wise.

In addition to asking these questions, Illinoisans may benefit from talking through their options with an experienced family law attorney.

Source: Huffington Post, "Divorce Confidential: Should I Negotiate or Litigate My Divorce?" Caroline Choi, Sept. 25, 2013

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