What Are the Steps Involved in a Farm Divorce in Illinois with Tristan N. Bullington

What Drew Tristan to Family Law?

It was difficult to get work as a legal defender and Tristan went into legal aid which gave him family law and courtroom experience and that led Tristan to start his family law journey. Tristan took classes in criminal law, environmental law, and elder law but it didn’t hinder his ability to go into family law.

Divorce is a Lawsuit

Tristan mentioned that it is not a lawsuit about who is right or wrong but rather about how couples can divide assets or even a business that they had together.

What’s the Best Way to Set Clients Expectations?

Tristan stated that he thinks there is a flaw in the justice system that divorce is an adversarial process, however, he’s not sure what the better alternative is.

Divorce Paperwork is in the Public Record in the State of Illinois

Because divorce paperwork is a public record, people really need to be careful in terms of what goes on there.

What is Discussed in an Initial Farm Divorce Consultation?

The goal is for Tristan to get a clear understanding of what their marriage is pertaining to financial information as well as info about the children. Tristan calls this the “foundational” information. The session is to discover facts and what the goals are for the couple and divorce. The last part will entail how they can hire him and the fees.

What Are the Worst Divorce Mediations?

Tristan mentioned it is those where one party is represented by an attorney, but the other party decides to represent themselves.

What is the Next Step After the Initial Filing of a Farm Divorce?

Tristan stated that he does discovery in every case, which requests documents that are needed such as 2 years of bank statements and pay stubs. He also sends interrogatories, which says answer these questions. Sometimes, the subpoena is necessary to request documents such as bank records. A subpoena is a legal process used to require someone to produce documents to the court.

What is the Appraisal Process?

Tristan said that discretion must be used to determine if the cost of the appraisal is worth it to pay for it or not based on the potential value of an item.

What Are the Methods of Negotiation?

Tristan believes that a local attorney is going to know the best way to deal with the opposing counsel. His process involves a conversation with his client, obtaining an inventory of assets and debts, and the distribution of that inventory that ends up going to the opposing counsel.

Have Farmers Have Shifted Their Marriage to Be More of a Business Relationship in Order to Keep the Farm Intact?

Tristan stated that if a farm has been in the family for generations, that has a huge emotional attachment to that person. For this type of situation to work, there must be an exit strategy and a game plan in case it doesn’t work.

How Does Inheritance Work Under Illinois Law?

Inheritance is not considered marital property in Illinois. It is ideal to consult an experienced divorce attorney if you may be coming into inheritance to protect it. In a divorce, the court will divide the marital property but not the non-marital party, so it is imperative to document everything meticulously.

Is it a Good Idea for Couples Who Own Farm and Agricultural Businesses to Have a Prenup?

Tristan believes that a prenup agreement is the gold standard of documentation that can show whether the intent of a property was to be marital or non-marital property. A good prenup agreement needs to be specific, have a list of assets and debts, and clearly explain what all those things are. Tristan mentioned that when you go meet with your prenup lawyer, it is best to have an idea of all your assets and debts.

The Impact of Post-Nuptial Agreements with Families that Have Agriculture and Food Businesses

Tristan believes that post-nuptial agreements are not as valuable as prenup agreements because there must be some form of consideration. He brought up the point of what happens if your spouse doesn’t want to sign a post-nuptial agreement; then what happens?

How Does a Prenup or Postnup Affect the Divorce Process?

If the prenup is presented to the court and the other side doesn’t dispute it, you have removed 50% of what there was to fight about; instead, it allows for families to focus more on negotiating child custody and child support issues. Having a prenup can also save a ton of legal fees if the marriage was to end in divorce.

What Has Been the Biggest Silver Lining for Tristan During the Pandemic?

Tristan loved being able to conduct hearings via Zoom and that has freed up more time to focus on eating healthier as well.

Connect with Tristan N. Bullington:

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Visit the Meyer Capel website

Tristan N. Bullington Bio

Mr. Bullington is a shareholder at the law firm of Meyer Capel, A Professional Corporation. He heads the firm’s Family Law practice group and also handles criminal defense from the firm’s Bloomington office. Tristan lives in Bloomington with his wife, Monica, a real estate agent, and their two cats.

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