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Contested Divorce vs. Uncontested Divorce: What You Need to Know

Going through a divorce can be a traumatic time. Beyond the closing of a chapter and the heartbreak that may come with the breakdown of a marriage, legal issues may arise– especially if a divorce is contested.

Divorces are categorized as “contested” or “uncontested”. A contested divorce means that there are issues that the two parties cannot agree on. Sometimes there may only be one or two issues and sometimes there may be many issues. These may include how to divide property, assets, parenting responsibilities, etc. Contested divorces can be complicated, lengthy, and costly.

At Diamond Divorce Law, we have experience helping Illinois couples through their divorce– both contested and uncontested. This blog will discuss the differences between the two and what you need to know about them.

Uncontested Divorce in Illinois

In simple terms, an uncontested divorce means that both parties are in agreement on all issues. When divorces are uncontested, the process is faster and less expensive than contested divorces which involve lengthy processes and court hearings. It is usually a good idea to hire a local family law attorney to help you through the process.

Unfortunately, coming to an agreement with your spouse during a divorce isn’t always possible.

Contested Divorce in Illinois

A contested divorce means that there are issues that you are not in agreement on. These could range from simple issues like who gets the dog, “Ralph”, to complicated issues such as dividing millions of dollars of assets. 

Grounds for a divorce are no longer an issue in Illinois. Even though Illinois requires irreconcilable differences and a separation of 6 months, in reality, if either party wants a divorce they will get it.

Some of the frequently contested issues are:

  • Custody of children, including parenting time, decision-making, and child support;
  • Financial obligations, including, maintenance payments to a spouse (previously known as alimony payments);
  • Division of assets such as real estate, vehicles, and financial accounts;
  • Division of debts acquired during a marriage; and
  • Division of household furnishings and other personal property and effects.

How are Contested Divorces Resolved?

First, you need to determine what issues are agreed upon and what issues are contested. Then, you need to determine what the best approach is for each contested issue.

There are different approaches depending on what the issue is. The approach to issues relating to children may be different then the approach to issues involving property or debt.

Contested issues may be resolved by:

  • Mediation — Mediation is where parties meet with a qualified expert, the mediator. The mediator does not represent either party but tries to work out an agreement between the parties on  contested matters. 
  • Arbitration — Divorce arbitration can be a substitute for an in-court trial. Instead of resolving the dispute in a courtroom, the case is heard in a private setting before an arbitrator.
  • Litigation — If alternate dispute resolution processes fail, contested issues will go to trial.

How can I Avoid a Contested Divorce?

The best way to avoid a contested divorce is to have both parties in agreement. This is not always possible.

If you are considering a divorce, before you even discuss it with your spouse we recommend that you learn what your rights and options are, how the procedures work and what you can expect depending on how your spouse reacts.

Having a qualified family law lawyer help you with this is crucial. Your family law lawyer can help you figure out the best strategy to approach your spouse to determine if there is an agreement on everything and avoid fighting.

Contact Diamond Divorce Law

Located in McHenry, Illinois, Diamond Divorce Law can help you navigate the legal issues that arise in  both contested and uncontested divorce. With years of experience, we can help you close out this chapter and help you enter into your next.  Contact the offices of Diamond Divorce today for help with your divorce.

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