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Many Illinoisans have likely heard the axiom: “Don’t do tomorrow what you can do today.” But, for many people thinking about divorce, the opposite view wins out: “Don’t do today what you can do tomorrow.” Then, people dress that procrastination up with rationalizations, some more compelling than others. Illinoisans may tell themselves that they just want to wait for the holidays to pass, the school year to finish or any number of other things.

Nonetheless, procrastination during an impending divorce can be costly. Instead of pushing off the decision, whether because of the timing or out of a desire to put off working through alimony, child custody or property division, Illinoisans should start preparing. Preparation enables people to decide whether to get divorced from a position of strength.

Preparation requires three things. First, Illinoisans should get their financial documents set. Getting these documents in order can take some time because there are many documents to find, many of which had years to hide or collect dust.

Second, Illinoisans should create new bank and credit card accounts. These accounts should be separate from one’s spouse. In the case of bank accounts, Illinoisans would be wise not to use any bank where they already have a joint account.

Third, Illinoisans should start socking away money dedicated to paying for the divorce. The more complex or contentious the divorce, the more money Illinoisans should save. This fund could be essential, if a spouse temporarily freezes the filing spouse’s access to marital assets. Illinoisans who take these steps should be well prepared regardless of how friendly or ferocious their divorce becomes.

Source: Forbes, “(Soon-to-be) Divorcing Women: What Are You Waiting For? Here’s How To Prepare To File,” Jeff Landers, June 26, 2014