Advance preparation before divorce, including research into Illinois law and getting paperwork organized, may help the divorce process move along more smoothly. However, the fact remains that divorce is stressful, and the first step for anyone considering it should be to make sure it is the right choice.

Next, people should get their finances in order. They should order copies of credit reports, close any shared accounts and make a post-divorce budget. They should also gather as many financial records as they can, including information on retirement accounts, bank statements, tax returns and investment information. Thinking about both financial and personal goals for after the divorce, people may be able to make a plan about what assets they want to keep in the divorce. For example, many people may find that a post-divorce budget reveals an inability to afford the family home.

A divorce does not have to end up in court. Couples may be able to work out an agreement by going through mediation or having a collaborative divorce. This might also be better if they have children. Parents need to focus on the best interests of their children, including a custody plan that ensures that. Some people may want to hire a therapist. It is important for people to get enough rest and care for themselves during this difficult time.

An attorney may be able to assist a person in creating a strategy for divorce negotiations or for litigation. One advantage of negotiating a divorce agreement is that it leaves the couple in more control regarding the outcome. They may both be unhappy with the judge’s solution for property division. Judges base child custody decisions on what is in the best interests of the child, so parents should keep in mind that a judge is unlikely to block a parent’s access to a child unless the child is in danger.