When you and your spouse have decided to divorce, or when one of you has decided to end the marriage, the legal proceedings you face can be incredibly daunting. Even if you are confident that divorce is your best option, the actual process of ending your marriage is likely to be more detailed and emotionally taxing than you initially expect. It’s natural to adopt a desire to want to complete the dissolution process as quickly as possible. However, you should not rush your divorce. Doing so can create further problems that will only demand more of your time and attention later.

While it’s important to avoid hasty decision-making in your divorce, there are some things you can do to streamline the process and significantly shorten the time required to complete your divorce in Springfield, IL. As you prepare for your divorce, keep the following tips in mind to potentially save yourself time, money, and stress as you navigate your divorce proceedings.

Find a Reliable Attorney

Perhaps the most important thing you can do to reduce the time required to complete your divorce is to hire an experienced Springfield, IL, family law attorney. While it is technically possible to complete a divorce without legal representation, it is far more complicated than many people expect. You would need to meet very strict court filing deadlines, perform extensive legal research, gather a wide variety of documents and records, and prepare for a complicated series of courtroom proceedings while managing the emotional stress of the situation.

Working with an experienced lawyer can dramatically reduce the time and stress of your divorce process. Your legal team can help you complete all of the procedural requirements your case entails, handle the initial document gathering process efficiently, and make more informed decisions about how to handle your divorce quickly. You might be surprised to learn you have more options than you initially anticipated, and your attorney is likely to reveal other factors that significantly influence the progress of your divorce case.

Gather Documentation Ahead of Time

Once you or your spouse files a divorce petition with the Springfield, IL, family court, this will initiate legal proceedings with various requirements and deadlines. Therefore, before you take any formal steps toward completing your divorce, it’s good to spend time gathering the documents and records you will need to provide to your attorney. These documents will primarily include financial records, such as your bank statements, past years’ tax returns, investment account records, and more. These financial records will not only be essential for property division but also for resolving other issues in your divorce, such as child support or alimony.

If you are proactive in gathering this documentation ahead of filing your divorce petition, you can provide it to your legal team as soon as possible. This can drastically reduce the time required for your attorney to start working on your case. In addition, it will be much faster and easier to go back and secure one or two records that you may have forgotten to include than it would be to perform the entire document recovery process after securing legal counsel.

Privately Negotiate With Your Spouse

While this may not be feasible or productive in every situation, taking time to negotiate with your spouse ahead of your divorce petition can potentially streamline the divorce process significantly. Whether you and your spouse fight about everything or are on relatively amicable terms, taking time to privately discuss your respective goals and expectations from your divorce can help you approach the situation with clearer minds.

You may not be able to resolve anything in these early discussions, but taking time to talk about your situation can potentially open many useful doors. For example, once you and your spouse start discussing the details of what you each expect from your divorce, you may discover the potential for reconciliation. You could also determine that legal separation would suit your respective interests better than divorce. If you decide to press on with the divorce, these early negotiations can potentially help the two of you have more productive discussions in your divorce proceedings if you decide to take advantage of alternative dispute resolution.

Try Alternative Dispute Resolution

Many couples throughout the Springfield, IL, area avoid the stress, expense, and time investment required of divorce litigation by opting for alternative dispute resolution. The two most commonly used methods are collaborative divorce and mediation. Unlike litigation that unfolds in a courtroom, alternative dispute resolution functions like a private settlement process for a divorce. Of course, it’s not possible to negotiate every aspect of your divorce in private discussions, but some couples may need to use this as a partial resolution method before handling remaining issues in litigation.

Collaborative divorce requires both spouses and their respective attorneys to meet and negotiate mutually acceptable divorce terms. Mediation is a similar process that unfolds under the guidance and direction of a neutral mediator. During mediation sessions, the mediator will assist the divorcing couple in negotiating each aspect of their divorce. The mediator helps the couple draft their divorce order, which is then submitted to a Springfield, IL, family court judge for a final approval process. The couple may not be able to resolve every issue their divorce involves through alternative dispute resolution, but taking full advantage of this option can significantly reduce the time the couple must spend in court.

The outcome of your divorce can potentially influence the rest of your life, or at least the next several years of it. Therefore, it’s essential to approach this process with a clear understanding of the legal issues you are likely to face and make informed decisions. Attempting to rush through your divorce will more than likely lead to unexpected issues that only prolong the time you must spend in the family court system and exacerbate the financial issues divorce often causes. If you are preparing to end your marriage and want to complete the process as efficiently as possible, contact an experienced Springfield, IL, family law attorney to discuss your case.