What I learned in "Divorce Boot Camp" today. I have an Illinois law license which requires that I take so many hours each year of continuing legal education. I tend to take those hours in either divorce or taxation. [Readers, in case you have not read the "About the Blogger" section of this blog, I now work as a tax preparer and have my IRS Enrolled Agent tax license which also requires a number of hours of continuing education.]
Today I attended a seminar entitled, Divorce Boot Camp, produced by the Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education. This was a day long program designed to give practitioners the basics and a little more about the complex world of divorce litigation.
With my own long and continuing involvement with the divorce court, I sometimes feel that I could be the one giving the seminar as I have been through most [but not all] of the possible iterations of divorce litigation! However, I learned a great deal from today's presentation and want to share some highlights:
Please note that my prolonged divorce litigation is not typical: It is what is termed a "high net worth" and a "high conflict" divorce. Not the average divorce proceeding. Through other life experiences, I now realize that many divorces are a lot harder: not as much to divide up, not as much income to share, bitter custody battles and more. I am fortunate that even though my X still pokes at me [he still wants the paintings back!] and will not stop , at least I am still able to fight with the expertise and dedication of my own great lawyers. I have great empathy for those spouses, mostly women, who have to deal with unreasonable [and sometimes crazy] ex-spouses in getting what they are entitled to under the law.
Here are a few nuggets from today:
When interviewing a potential lawyer, know that he or she is looking at you too. They are evaluating whether or not you are the kind of client they want. Think about what you are going to say to them and don't "vomit" your whole story. The initial consultation is not the place to give them all the facts. Be sure to listen to what they have to say about the process. Know what you want from the divorce. They should not promise too much.
Be sure to fill out the financial disclosure form completely and accurately. This is a form shows your current income and expenses. For Cook County, this is called the Asset Disclosure Statement [or Form 13.3]. See the previous post on financial mistakes for suggestions. This document is very important for temporary support and beyond. Your attorney can help you fill this out, and they should review it before it is submitted with your petition for the divorce.
When you finally get your divorce, obtain right away a certified copy of the divorce decree. It is cheaper if you get this right after the prove up or judgment. You will need this for all sorts of reasons going forward, like to change accounts, for Social Security etc. Keep it in a safe place.
I will share more information from this seminar in future posts.
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My downstairs neightbor, M, is the person that I share my daily adventures with as she does with me. So tonight she asked me what I learned today.
Here are some divorce lawyers to consider when looking for a good divorce lawyer [in addition to Leon or Peter]. They were speakers today and I was impressed by either their knowledge, passion for their clients, or both.
Nancy Chausaw Shafer, Chausaw Shafer, PC, Highland Park
Anna Markley Bush, Bush & Heise, Barrington, IL
Gail M. O'Connor, Law Offices of Gail M. O'Connor, Chicago
Also know that when you are interviewing a potential lawyer to represent you, know that they are evaluating you as a potential client as well. So don't go on and on about how much you hate your spouse. Instead educate yourself a little about the divorce process first and be able to articulate what your goals are for your divorce.