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The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) underwent a substantial overhaul in 2016, but many couples still do not fully understand what these changes mean. More specifically, the impact and implications of a "pure" no-fault divorce are often misunderstood. Learn more about no-fault divorces, including what they are and why it matters.

Dividing Legal and Emotional Aspects of Divorce

Before the changes to the IMDMA occurred, couples had to provide a reason for divorce. Moreover, the term "irreconcilable differences" only applied when it could be determined that the marriage was irretrievably broken, or that reconciliation was not in the family's best interest. As such, divorces often brought up emotional elements that hindered the legal process, pitted one spouse against the other, and caused unnecessary contention in the courtroom.

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Arguments, disagreements, or even silent troubles over money in marriage are extremely common in America. That is because most couples are not sure how to broach the subject, yet even those who attempt to work through their money issues often feel as if at least one of them always walks away from the conversation feeling angry, hurt, taken advantage of, or ignored. Unfortunately, if the issues are never resolved, the couple then becomes at an increased risk for divorce. Worse yet, the issues that plagued them in marriage may also find their way into the courtroom.

Divorce Rarely Eliminates Money Troubles

If money has been a problem in your marriage, then it is likely that it will continue to be an issue during your divorce. Part of this is due to the very nature of divorce - the way it pits one party against another - but it can also be a lingering symptom of unhealthy money habits, behaviors, and conversations. For example, if one party is a saver and the other prefers to spend, then there one spouse may need to take steps to prevent dissipation of the marital estate. Alternatively, if the couple regularly argued over the contributions that a stay-at-home parent made, their work may continue to be devalued by their spouse in the divorce proceedings.

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While divorce can and does happen throughout the year, there is often a spike that occurs right after the holidays. Many reasons may exist for this phenomenon, but the big concern is not when the divorce happens, but rather how. Far too many couples wait until they are ready to file before contacting an attorney. Unfortunately, this may not be in their best interest. If you intend to file for divorce in the New Year, the following information can help you better understand the benefits of planning for divorce now, before the holidays are over.

Understanding the Purpose of Divorce Planning

Divorce planning is essentially what it sounds like - a plan for the months leading up to the actual divorce. This can be especially helpful when there are complex divorce matters, such as a high net worth, contention among the divorcing parties, or complex child-related matters. It keeps everyone focused on the overall goal when emotions start to run high. Divorce planning can also help each party prepare for the future, whether that means ensuring that they have paid off some of the debt to prevent divorce-induced financial troubles, talking to a financial advisor about potential tax consequences, or obtaining suitable housing ahead of time to smooth the transition for children.

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The decision to divorce is not one easily made. In fact, studies suggest that couples may spend a long time trying to repair their marriage, and that they may think of divorce long before they decide whether or not they should file. Some never do, possibly because they found their troubles to be situational, or they were able to work through what seemed to be irreconcilable differences. Others do finally call it quits. How do you determine if you are in the latter group? The following information may give you some insight as to whether or not your marriage could be on the path to divorce.

You Notice More Negative Than Positive

One of the first signs that a relationship is headed for divorce is an increase in negative interactions, such as nagging, hurtful sarcasm, complaining, and criticism. At first, the effect might seem subtle (as few as 1.2 negative interactions to one positive can be a predictor to divorce), but the erosive nature of negativity can, over time, increase its frequency. So, if negative interactions dominate your relationship, your marriage could be in serious trouble and, in some cases, may be beyond repair.

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Couples do not get married with the intent of eventually filing for divorce, yet it happens to approximately 2,000 couples per year. A psychologist at the University of Washington and founder of the Gottman Institute says he and a colleague at the University of California at Berkeley can predict which ones it might happen to with an accuracy of about 93 percent. They reportedly did so by identifying four behaviors commonly found in the relationships of divorcing couples.

Contempt

Deemed the "kiss of death" by the study authors, contempt is a mixture of anger and disgust that goes well beyond that of frustration or negativity; you literally see your partner as beneath you, rather than your equal, and this can lead to all kinds of problems. Instead of feeling compassion or empathy when your partner makes a mistake, you close yourself off and consider yourself smarter, more sensitive than, or just outright better than your partner. And, because you have already decided that your spouse's opinions and feelings are not valid, you are highly unlikely to even attempt to see matters from his or her point of view.

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