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Where property division is concerned, knowledge is power

When someone in Illinois is considering filing for divorce, it isn’t like deciding what to have for lunch. People will often think about it for a while, maybe try counseling and even seek advice from friends and family. One piece of advice that they receive is often to “hire a good attorney.”

A “good divorce attorney” is often assumed in the mind of individuals to be one that will make sure the other spouse ends up with nothing. This isn’t true. A good divorce attorney will help a client make divorce what they want it to be, whether it is an adversarial one or an uncontested divorce. A good divorce attorney helps a client understand each step in the process, protect their interests and help assuage their fears about the process itself.

These fears often include ones that are based on the uncertainty of the future or whether or not one will get his or her fair share during property division. This is where that “good divorce attorney” steps in.

A divorce attorney will help a client understand the big picture. This includes a complete understanding of not only every asset that a couple owns, but exactly what the true value of each of those assets are. For instance, a $500,000 401(k) isn’t necessarily equal to a $500,000 Roth IRA after tax consequences are factored in.

In other situations, it is not so much an understanding of objective differences, but subjective ones as well. It may be the subjective value considerations of a closely-held business or even the emotional value behind a particular asset.

Knowing what assets one has and what their true value is goes a long way in getting a spouse that “fair share” and preparing for life post-divorce. And yes, a good attorney will advocate for a client whether it is over the client’s particular interest in an asset or discovering ones that were never disclosed.

Source: CBS, “Divorce financial planner: 3 common fears,” Robert Pagliarini, Aug. 23, 2013

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