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Illinois divorce attorneyWhen one spouse chooses to leave the workforce to care for the couple’s home and children or takes on lower paying work than he or she would otherwise be able to perform in order to do so, that spouse may seek spousal maintenance, once known as alimony, as part of the couple’s divorce settlement. Spousal maintenance is designed to prevent a lower earning spouse from experiencing financial hardship following his or her divorce.

Permanent vs. Temporary Spousal Maintenance

In the past, it was far more common for one partner to stay home while the other provided the family’s sole income than it is today. Divorced individuals who stayed home during their marriages were also less frequently expected to reenter the workforce or enter it for the first time after their divorces. These individuals were frequently awarded permanent alimony, which ensured that they received support from their former partners until they remarried or their former partners died.

Today, dual-income households are the norm. Individuals who opt out of the workforce often do so with some years of working experience and may have vocational or college degrees. Because these individuals can support themselves after their divorces, they are generally awarded temporary spousal maintenance. This maintenance provides a “cushion” for the receiver, permitting him or her to complete an education or secure employment before having to financially support him- or herself completely.

There are some cases where permanent maintenance may still be awarded, such as marriages that lasted 20 years or longer or cases where the lesser earning spouse cannot realistically return to the workforce due to age or disability.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_domestic-violence_20170816-022611_1.jpgBefore you can divorce your abusive spouse, you might need to get yourself out of your home and into a healthy mental and physical state. You can do this by making use of the resources available to you provided by the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Use its website or call the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline to find a safe way to leave your home and reach your nearest victims’ shelter. Ending an abusive marriage can take time, money, and your mental and physical energy, but it is always worth it.

The Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence

The Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ICADV) is a nonprofit organization that provides resources to domestic violence victims throughout Illinois. These resources include grants for organizations seeking to provide resources to domestic violence victims, safety planning for victims, education and outreach for victims, and training for licensed counselors and social workers who work with domestic violence victims.

Orders of Protection

If you feel you are in danger of suffering more abuse by your former partner, use an order of protection to keep him or her from contacting or coming near you. To do this, file a Petition for an Order of Protection with your local circuit court. There are three types of order of protection available to Illinois residents:

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Posted on in Divorce

Illinois divorce lawyer, Illinois family law attorneyNo matter the circumstances, ending a marriage can be a heart-wrenching experience. Knowing when to call to quits is especially difficult, especially when you have invested a significant amount of time with your spouse. Some couples pull the plug at the first sign of serious trouble, while others may wait months, or even years, for the warning signs to appear. Even after those warning signs begin to surface, however, many couples have trouble letting go.

Knowing When Enough Is Enough

The key to deciphering if enough is enough begins with asking yourself if the bad has begun to outweigh the good in your marriage. This can be hard to figure out, especially when there is a plethora of good memories hidden between the clumps of bad times that continue to pile up. Ultimately, though, divorce experts believe one of the most glaring tell-tale signs that a marriage is in trouble is when the good times slowly become fewer and farther between. Taking it a step further, ask yourself if you have recently made any of the following observations about your marriage:

1. You can (and often do) envision life without your spouse - One big warning sign that your marriage is on the rocks is if you can clearly see, and often envision, what your life would look like if you were single, living without your spouse. Not only does it indicate that you are unhappy with your current relationship, it also highlights the fact that the intimacy you once shared with your spouse - including the sharing of feelings, thoughts, and desires - has dissipated. A lack in these areas naturally leads to distance, and distance is not necessarily always a good thing.

2. You feel your spouse has checked out - Many people who go through a divorce or are about to commonly report that they feel completely alone in the relationship, especially when it comes to whatever conflicts they are facing. If you feel an intense lack of support or feel your spouse has been absent in general, there is a good chance your marriage may be on the rocks. The old adage rings true: It takes two to make things work. If you are the only one working to solve the problems and repair your marriage, you may be fighting a losing battle.

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Posted on in Divorce

Illinois divorce lawyer, Illinois family law attorneyJust about everything we hear regarding comparing our divorce to someone else’s is overwhelmingly unanimous - and understandably, accurate. Experts galore emphasize the dangers of comparing our own divorce experience to our friend’s, neighbor’s, or co-worker’s. After all, everyone’s circumstances are drastically different, on many accounts. From finances and settlements to motivators for the split and the portrait of post-divorce life, everyone has their own horror and success stories to share, and two portraits rarely ever look alike.

The Good that Can Come from Comparing Divorce Experiences

While it is true that many negative results can spring from comparing the end of our marriage to someone else’s, like the bolstering of unrealistic expectations and greater emotional turmoil, there are a few benefits to making comparisons that can actually help, not hinder us. It is all a matter of perspective. Before you shut yourself away from conversing with fellow divorcees and turn off the urge to compare your split to your neighbor’s, consider the following:

1. Comparing allows you to discover you are not alone - One positive advantage of comparing your experience and listening to the various accounts of divorce from others is that you quickly discover you are not alone in your difficulties. While it is never fun to see someone else in pain or to witness their struggles firsthand (as it can easily add to your own divorce anxieties), some comfort can be drawn from observing one major similarity: No matter the circumstances, everyone experiences unique obstacles, financial challenges, and emotional battles. Do not compare your experience in order to measure your divorce against another, but instead compare to gain insight and a fresh perspective on the loss you are grieving.

2. You have the opportunity to strengthen your support system - Therapists stress the importance of seeking out and building an emotional support system throughout the divorce process. A part of building such a support system often includes speaking to others who have been through what you are now going through. Discussing the experience with others and comparing their struggles to your own can help you relate and at the same time also strengthen the bonds you’ve made with those in your support network by building a sense of trust and safety.

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Illinois divorce lawyer, Illinois family law attorneyBefore resorting to divorce, many couples consider the idea of legal separation, which allows them the opportunity to live apart and test the waters before committing to the decision to officially end their marriage. Research shows that a trial separation can be a wonderful, effective tool, particularly for those who truly do not desire to split up and who would like to repair their marriage.

While there are many advantages to attempting such an arrangement, experts tell us that not every marriage will benefit from a time-out, however. Some marriages simply do not make it, and many separations that are initially intended to serve as a temporary break for both spouses often end up being permanent and inevitably result in divorce.

Is Legal Separation Right for You?

Psychology professionals tell us that trial separations generally work for couples who are realistic about what a time-out really entails, and this means recognizing that it involves a lot of energy, hard work, and willingness on behalf of both parties to make the arrangement an effective one. If you are on the fence about trying legal separation versus diving straight into divorce proceedings, consider the following three signs that may indicate a separation is a good option for you:

1. You are willing to play by the rules - Therapists stress the importance of setting boundaries and ground rules when deciding to separate. Both parties must be willing to discuss uncomfortable subjects, such as dating other people during the break and a potential deadline for making the final call. If you are prepared to help set boundaries and honor your part of the agreement, it may be worth trying out a trial separation. It is not uncommon for couples to get back together, and the time they spent apart can prove to be a healthy, productive experience in the end.

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Illinois divorce lawyer, Illinois family attorneyRegardless of where you stand with money matters throughout the course of your marriage, the moment your relationship comes to an end, your financial security can change drastically, in a short period of time. Whether you have been accustomed to a very comfortable life or have always struggled to make ends meet, the moment you undergo divorce, your financial well-being is exposed to a number of risks, and many of those risks have the potential to affect your bank account and the overall quality of your life for many years to come.

Thinking Ahead

Many individuals are able to prepare for the financial implications of divorce well ahead of time, months before they even begin divorce proceedings. Others are left scrambling at the last minute or after the split to figure out how to put the pieces together and provide for themselves. Whatever your divorce circumstances, planning is key. Here are some ways you can take steps toward successfully standing on your own feet once your marriage is over:

1.Explore potential maintenance options - Once referred to as alimony, maintenance is a form of spousal support that requires the spouse who earns the larger income to provide payments to the other spouse. In the state of Illinois, not all lesser-earning spouses are guaranteed maintenance, and granted maintenance is usually temporary, but it is important to at least speak with an attorney to inquire about your potential options for receiving payments to ensure you aren’t missing out on funds that could help you provide for yourself. The court will look at a number of different factors when deciding whether or not to award maintenance payments, so do not rule out pursuing a maintenance order until you get all the facts.

2. Create a financial snapshot - In order to know where you stand before and after your divorce, it is essential to create a general snapshot of your finances. This means gathering as many details as possible and assembling lists of any and all debts, assets, and newly opened accounts. You will need a clear picture of what you owe versus the income you will bring in on your own, without your spouse, in order to sit down with a financial planner and create a new budget for your post-divorce lifestyle.

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Posted on in Divorce

Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family attorneyOf all the emotions that individuals face during divorce, stress is one of the most common. Some experience it from grief, others because of anger or resentment, and still some due to contentious situations. Regardless, all can manage their stress and improve their situation. Learn how with help from the following divorce coping strategies.

Accepting the Divorce

You do not have to like the divorce to accept it. In fact, few couples truly celebrate the process itself. After all, no one wants to hurt a person they once (or possibly still) love. Unfortunately, some relationships simply do not last. Begging, trying to get revenge, pleading, or bargaining is unlikely to change that. For some, not even therapy helps. So, if you and your spouse are on the path to divorce, the best thing you can do to start coping is to accept that change that is happening in your life.

Dealing with Your Feelings

During divorce, emotions can change and shift quickly, often from one extreme to another. You might be sad one moment, and then angry another. Understand that these highly charged emotions are normal, and they are a part of the grieving process. However, if you start to experience extreme depression, struggle to deal with daily activities (i.e. work, caring for children, etc.), you may want to consider seeking outside help from a therapist or support group.

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Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family law attorneyFor many couples who decide to end their marriage, the idea of bouncing back after the split is a daunting one. Regardless of how long you and your spouse were together or whether or not the divorce was a peaceful, mutual decision, saying goodbye to the relationship is an emotional journey that unfolds over time. Much like other losses in life, divorce brings about its own form of grief, which naturally slows down the rebound process.

Studies Show You May See an Improvement in Mental and Physical Health after You Leave a Poor Marriage

Although everyone needs time to work through the aftermath of the separation, moving on is not an impossible feat, as much as it may feel like it in the midst of the divorce process. A research study from the Journal of Family Psychology shows that those who have poor marriages generally do better after the divorce, and the overall satisfaction of individuals who divorce depends greatly on their perception of the relationship during the marriage. For example, if you and your spouse were fighting constantly and you experienced ongoing arguments and bouts of depression as a result, chances are you are going to benefit from the separation and all it entails.

Kick-Starting Your Goal to Move On

While you cannot force the healing period that follows divorce, you can be on your way to feeling better sooner, rather than later, by practicing the following:

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b2ap3_thumbnail_divorce-filing.jpgMany couples must ponder the idea of whether or not there is truly a “right” time to divorce when faced with the decision to call it quits. Is there really such thing as a good time to break the sad news to friends and family? No one is ever truly prepared for the emotional toll that divorce entails, so it is completely understandable when a couple chooses to delay the decision. Some couples hold off with hopes for possible reconciliation, while others feel it may be best to stay together for the children.

Identifying Priorities

Whatever the personal circumstances surrounding your imminent separation, weighing various factors that may ultimately shape your divorce experience for better or worse before officially ending the marriage can be beneficial. Evaluating these factors can help you identify your priorities in the divorce process, which can help you decide the best time to make the jump.

Explore some of these key areas when looking at the timeline of your divorce:

1. Financial Standing

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Posted on in Divorce

Illinois divorce lawyer, Illinois family law attorneyOver the years, an array of opinions has surfaced over the subject of legal separation before divorce. For most people, the term “separation” on its own sends off immediate warning signs that something must be wrong in the marriage. While the fact that separation clearly implies conflict in a marriage, the reality is legal separation is pursued by many different couples for various reasons, and the intent is not always to end the marriage. Many couples pursue legal separation with the hopes of saving the marriage and do succeed, eventually reconciling due to the time spent apart.

Motivations Behind Legal Separation

Others are simply unable to reconcile, however. In this case, the damage is done, the separation has only further clarified that the marriage is, in fact, over, and divorce naturally becomes the next step on the agenda. Most couples fall somewhere in the middle when they choose to legally separate. For example, married partners commonly separate because they are uncertain if divorce is the right choice for them and for their family, or they would like to try counseling and want time to attempt to repair the relationship before calling it quits.

Potential Benefits of Spending Time Apart

Whatever your personal circumstances, if you find that you are in a similar place, it may be worth it in your case to consider the benefits of legal separation before resorting to divorce. Here are three common reasons some couples opt for legal separation instead of divorce, and some points for you to consider as you weigh which option best suits your situation:

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Illinois family law attorney, Illinois divorce lawyerThere is no greater dilemma for parents exploring the possibility of divorce than deciding whether or not to go through with the process for the sake of the children. There is much at stake where kids are concerned when deciding to end a marriage. Everything must be taken into account, including the immediate emotional and mental effects, to how the split will impact the children in the future, as the years go on.

Should You Stay or Should You Go?

The question of whether staying together is in the children’s best interests is a difficult one to answer, but one thing is certain: There are a number of diverse opinions on the matter, but ultimately only you, the parent, can decide if it is time to say when, or if it will work in everyone’s favor to remain a family unit despite the marital conflict.

Psychologists suggest examining the following as you explore whether divorce is the right decision for your family:

Consider the ways divorce would negatively affect your children.

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Posted on in Divorce

Illinois divorce lawyer, Illinois family attorneyFor many, recovering from the emotional onslaught of divorce is a long, uphill battle, full of turbulent disagreement and ever-mounting tension. Others feel the same emotional weight in terms of loss, but experience a much smoother transition when it comes to the technicalities behind the divorce. When couples are able to work together and remain civil, keeping one another’s best interests at heart, they tend to bounce back with more ease than couples who exchange a lot of animosity and spite, and their overall ability to move on and let go is greatly improved.

Removing Obstacles

Whatever your personal circumstances are as you wade through the separation process, chances are you will, like most people, experience some bumps as you enter post-divorce life. Learning how to be single again and all the lifestyle changes that come with the transition can make the adjustment period difficult even for those parting on the most mutual of terms.

If you are about to embark on the post-divorce journey or are currently struggling with it, there are certain steps you can take to ensure you are on the right path to healing. Remove potential obstacles that can slow down the healing process by practicing the following:

1. Do what you love - Studies show that those who lose or have trouble regaining interest in the activities or hobbies they loved before the divorce tend to get stuck in the grieving process. While you cannot rush healing, it is important to stay involved with the things you love and to nurture your existing routines. It also helps to try new things and challenge yourself; you may discover a new interest along the way, which can help you as you work to re-discover who you are without your spouse.

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Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family law attorneyAs a parent undergoing divorce, you have your work cut out for you. Not only do you need to address the legal technicalities of the split in the midst of experiencing the grieving process, you also need to tackle all the issues that accompany the end of a marriage, including everything from the division of assets and parenting time (visitation), to parenting plans and inventory of your personal finances. For the stay-at-home parent, divorce requires a complete lifestyle overhaul, which can trigger a number of concerns for the spouse who has been the primary caregiver at home.

Safeguarding Your Rights as a Stay-at-Home Parent

The idea that the stay-at-home parent will be able to continue to live the lifestyle they were originally accustomed to prior to the divorce is sadly not always a realistic one. While there are laws that vary from state to state that allow certain protections for the stay-at-home spouse, the parent’s lifestyle will inevitably change as their financial circumstances evolve due to the divorce. Parents used to staying home to raise their children can still make the effort to safeguard their rights during the transition in the following ways:

Explore the possibility of maintenance - Here in the state of Illinois, the law may entitle you to maintenance (alimony), which is sometimes awarded to account for a significant difference in income and earnings between spouses. The amount you may be eligible for and the length of time you may receive the award is determined by a mathematical formula and factors summarized in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/504). The court will look at everything from the current and future earning capacity of each spouse, joint property and assets, and the needs of each spouse, to the standard of living that was established during the marriage and how long the union lasted. Exploring your eligibility for maintenance can help you plan, prepare, and protect your financial well-being

Assess your assets - In order to protect your livelihood after your divorce, you need to first get a clear snapshot of what your finances currently look like. This will help you gauge what you are walking into after the divorce, and help you know what needs to be addressed when consulting with your attorney. Take stock of everything from your mortgage and car title to basic monthly expenses and debts, and also jot down any potential employment options as well as educational pursuits you may explore, which may incur additional expenses on your behalf.

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Posted on in Divorce

Illinois family law attorney, Illinois divorce lawyerIf you and your spouse find yourselves in the midst of separating, you, like many couples, may be pondering the advantages and disadvantages of legal separation before divorce. Legal separation serves to outline the rights and responsibilities of each spouse when they are living apart, but are not yet divorced. Living apart for a period of time can be helpful for the couple who wants to try a trial separation before making the decision to call it quits, but doing so can bring about certain financial risks if not addressed properly early on.

Making It Official

If you choose to go the trial separation route, there are certain stipulations that must be met in order to make the separation official by law. Ensuring your separation is legal will help prevent any potential financial risks associated with living apart before you divorce.

The following three main requirements must be met in order to legally separate in the state of Illinois:

1. Make a petition - A petition must be filed with the Clerk of Court requesting the separation and the petition must be served to the other marriage partner. From there, the partner being served must respond to the petition to continue the process, and they have the right to present any defense against the petition at this time.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_money-issues.jpgMultiple studies conducted by various experts, over many decades, have revealed the sad truth that serious financial trouble is an overwhelming predictor for separation and divorce for couples around the globe. The American Psychological Association (APA) reports a number of studies that have proven the stress brought on by financial struggle can cause even the strongest relationships to fall apart, making it crucial for everyone, regardless of their income level or line of work, to address their money management habits early on in a marriage.

Clashing Money Management Styles

Looking at the way you and your spouse spend, save, and budget money before the marriage and in the early stages of your union can make a significant difference in how well your relationship fares over time. This is especially important when you and your spouse experience additional stressors throughout the course of your marriage, adding more pressure to the existing tension. Such issues can increase the number of arguments between you and your spouse, and ultimately affect the longevity of your relationship.

Financial tension between a couple typically begins when each spouse manages money differently, particularly when poor spending habits are present. This can include consistent loans and high revolving lines of credit, or simply a penchant for expensive things that are not affordable, given an individual’s income. When one partner’s monthly debt is higher than the amount they take home each month, these problems eventually rise to the surface during the marriage and continue to be a source of conflict over time.

Preventing Financial Stress from Wreaking Havoc on Your Marriage

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b2ap3_thumbnail_prenup.jpgAlthough the subject of prenuptial agreements spark ongoing controversy, the reality is such agreements can offer a range of benefits for both parties involved, should a divorce ever take place. When both parties are open and willing to discuss the potential advantages of arranging a prenup, the outcome can bring great peace of mind and provide a clear, organized game plan in the event the marriage comes to an end.

Key Areas to Address

The purpose of a prenup is to prepare for the management and protection of your assets, especially in the event that you and your spouse have difficulty agreeing on the division of those assets during a divorce. Due to the important nature of the agreement, it is crucial to identify which areas require attention as you begin the process of creating the contract. Some areas every couple needs to address include the following:

Debts - The reason for talking about debts with your future spouse is twofold; you both need to know about any existing financial obligations, and you both will also benefit from being transparent regarding any debts that are in your name before you tie the knot. Make a list of everything, including personal and bank-acquired loans, as well as any debts that may currently be in collections.

Assets - Assets are just as important to discuss as debts, as the subject of marital property can be a touchy one when a marriage doesn’t work out. You need to be clear on what you will do with any property or assets you acquire once you both are married. Should you divorce, will you split those belongings 50/50? If not, discuss any alternative options.

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Illinois family law attorney, Illinois divorce lawyerAlthough divorce is extremely common and many couples go through mutual, civil splits that result in healthier, happier lifestyles, the experience itself is never something we hope for as we begin the marriage journey. Sadly, many marriages fall apart due to a number of external and personal reasons, many of which are at times simply out of our control. According to the American Psychological Association, various psychological studies reveal that stress due to such factors can cause even the strongest relationships to unravel.

Factors that Contribute to Marital Dissatisfaction

Findings from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) report that women have a 52 percent chance of making it to their 20th wedding anniversary, while men have a 56 percent chance. With odds like these, how do we know which marriages will survive and which ones won’t make the cut? Studies show that the answer to this question is rooted deeply in our behavioral patterns. How we fight, communicate, and address conflict all contribute to the chances of our marriage working out.

Psychological studies show us that three particular sources of marital dissatisfaction commonly lead to divorce:

1. Financial Strain 

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Posted on in Divorce

Illinois divorce lawyer, Illinois family law attorneyAs we work through the everyday bumps that come with navigating a relationship, it can be difficult to recognize whether the problems we face are typical roadblocks that every couple experiences - those that can be overcome with time and effort- or whether those problems are indicators of much larger issues that can lead to divorce. It is typically these larger, foundational conflicts that create greater risk for potential separation down the road.

Cold Feet or Something More?

According to the American Psychological Association, up to 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, making it apparent that the odds don’t always end in every couple’s favor when it comes to marital longevity. Being able to recognize the signs that indicate trouble early on can go a long way in addressing and managing any existing or looming problems that may eventually lead to separation.

Here are four common predictors of divorce, according to the APA:

1. Cold Feet

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b2ap3_thumbnail_children-divorce.jpgNavigating the adjustment period after a divorce is a challenge for everyone at the end of a marriage. Depending on the level of tension and conflict in the relationship, the final unraveling of the union has the potential to wreak a significant amount of emotional damage on each party, and it is only natural for even the most peaceful splits to leave some sort of emotional scarring by the time the divorce is official.

The Psychological Effects

The psychological effects of divorce are just as impactful for children, and in some cases, even more so. This is due in part to the critical developmental periods children go through, such as the early teen years, when their minds and bodies are changing rapidly and drastically. The American Psychological Association reports research that indicates children from divorce tend to experience less financial security and have lower academic achievement, tend to drink and smoke more, and have a harder time finding and keeping jobs.

Factors that Play a Role in Healthy Adjustment

Despite these common negative post-divorce effects, studies reported by the APA still show that resilience, rather than dysfunction, is often the outcome for many children of divorce. There are a number of factors that play a role in promoting healthy post-divorce adjustment. The APA reveals that the following key factors are particularly influential:

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Illinois divorce lawyer, Illinois family law attorneyUndoubtedly, when couples decide to file for divorce, two of the most emotionally and mentally draining topics that arise following the decision are the division of property and child custody arrangements. If a couple shares a child, the stress of arranging parenting time is only compounded when the subject of dividing belongings is added to the mix. Everything combined calls for multiple lifestyle changes at once, creating a number of inevitable emotional landmines for everyone involved.

Priorities and Perspectives When Dividing Property

When it comes to dividing property, deciding who gets what after the divorce can be particularly distressing due to the finality that surrounds the task. Splitting belongings is the final step in ending a life that was once shared and beginning a new one, making it an overwhelming, burdensome chore for both parties.

According to studies reported by the American Psychological Association, the moment couples begin weighing the division of property in preparation for a settlement, they approach the subject with different perspectives. These differences ultimately determine their priorities, which often clash when it is time to meet with a mediator or attorney. Studies have shown the following differences between men and women when it is time to negotiate property division:

  • Women tend to focus more on interpersonal goals;
  • Task-specific goals are more typically the focal point for men;
  • Women are more concerned about their relationships with others than men are;
  • Women are more leery of risk at the end of marriage, which may suggest they are more likely to accept smaller settlements; and
  • Women are also more likely to forego monetary benefits than men are due to their cautious nature when it comes to settlements.

Along with these notable differences between men and women regarding their approach to settlement negotiations, other important research indicates there is a general perception of higher value placed on belongings that a party owns personally. For example, a husband or wife may feel less concerned about losing a particular joint savings account versus a brand new car that they personally purchased and placed in their name.

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