There are a number of things that you should accomplish before you begin divorce proceedings.  First, make sure that you have secured all of your personal property such as jewelry, photo albums, family heirlooms, children’s keepsakes, etc.  Personal property is notoriously hard to deal with in a courtroom, and litigation over personal property tends to be cost-prohibitive.  Second, make sure you have secured copies of all important documents, such as bank records, credit card statements, and paystubs.  You will want to bring these documents with you when you meet with your divorce attorney. 

You and your spouse’s tax returns, whether filed jointly or separately, are among the most important documents that your counsel will need in your divorce proceeding.  Make sure you have copies of your tax returns and your spouse’s tax returns for at least the past five years (or for the extent of your marriage, if married less than five years).  Make sure your copies of your returns include all W-2’s and 1099’s, especially if you filed joint tax returns.  Finally,  create a ledger listing all assets and debts, showing current asset values and debt balances.  It would also be beneficial for your counsel to know if any assets were purchased prior to your marriage, or were the result of an inheritance or gift made during your marriage.

 If you take these steps and secure these items prior to meeting with your attorney, you will ensure that the process begins smoothly and that your property is protected. 

John Rossi is a partner with McNamara Phelan McSteen, LLC.  He has been practicing in the field of matrimonial and family law for almost two decades, and acts as an appointed mediator for Will County family mediations. He also acts as a court-appointed guardian ad litem, and is an experienced real estate and probate attorney.  Contact John for a consultation regarding the impending changes to Illinois matrimonial law.


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