Many couples often struggle with taking the first steps toward ending a marriage. This may be, in part, because most are unsure of their financial rights and options regarding the marital residence, bank accounts, retirement plans, marital debt, child support and maintenance (alimony).
A successful mediation requires two parties who are willing to meet, negotiate and compromise. When parties are prepared and willing to work together to negotiate a financial settlement, mediation is an effective, mutual, low-cost way to settle differences and complete a divorce. This option should not be avoided simply because there are disagreements between the parties that seem too large to overcome. When everyone is committed to the process, mediation can be very effective.
In Illinois, marital property must be divided equitably, but this does not necessarily mean each party will receive half of the assets. When a couple is discussing their agreement for property division, they should look at their major assets: a home or other real property, a business, vehicles, bank accounts, and retirement/investment accounts. Familiarizing yourself with how the courts handle property distribution in your state can go a long way in helping you when negotiating with your spouse, and each party must understand the division of financial assets.
In mediation, the couple will also consider the debts that they have accumulated while married. Among debt you may need to divide are credit card balances, student loans, car payments, medical bills and mortgages. In order to come to the best possible division of debts, it is important to take an honest look at your finances, both personal and marital. Take the time to write down each debt owed, to whom it is owed, the amount of the debt, and any applicable account numbers. In mediation, the debts that you personally incurred before the marriage and those that were incurred by both spouses will be identified. If debt division is not addressed, one party could be unfairly burdened, resulting in bankruptcy or other financial problems.
Your property award can greatly impact your current and future financial well-being. It is important to hire an experienced mediator to explain and guide you through the entire financial settlement. Mediation has quite a few benefits over other options for negotiating a financial settlement. Many mediations end in a settlement of all the issues in your divorce, and while you can still have a lawyer to provide legal advice, ultimately you and your spouse make the decisions rather than depending on the court. Additionally, mediation is a more private process with no public record of the content of the sessions.