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Category: Family Law

Will My Divorce Case Go to Trial?

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Written by Jessica Mansbacher Kibbe on 5.21.24

In the state of Illinois, the process of dissolving a marriage is governed by specific laws and procedures aimed at ensuring a fair and equitable resolution for all parties involved. While the common perception may be that divorce cases frequently end up in lengthy and emotionally taxing trials, the reality is quite different. In fact, the majority of divorce cases in Illinois are resolved through settlement before they ever reach the trial stage. If you are wondering, “Will my divorce case go to trial?” the answer is, “Probably not.”

Understanding the Divorce Process in Illinois

In Illinois, divorce, legally known as dissolution of marriage, is granted on no-fault grounds. That means that you do not have to prove that your spouse did anything wrong in order to get divorced – you just need to show that irreconcilable differences exist in your marriage. Also, the residency requirement mandates that at least one spouse must have been a resident of Illinois for a minimum of 90 days prior to filing for divorce.

Divorces in Illinois can be categorized as contested or uncontested. In a contested divorce, the spouses are unable to reach agreements on key issues such as property division, child custody, and spousal support, leading to litigation and potentially a trial. Conversely, in an uncontested divorce, the spouses are able to agree on all issues, making the process simpler, faster, and less expensive.

Factors Contributing to Settlements in Divorce Cases

Several factors contribute to the prevalence of settlements in divorce cases in Illinois. Perhaps most significantly, both parties often prefer to avoid the time, expense, and emotional toll associated with a trial. Litigation can prolong the divorce process for months or even years, exacerbating stress and strain on the individuals involved, as well as their families.

Additionally, reaching a settlement offers both parties greater control over the outcome of their divorce. By negotiating directly or with the assistance of their respective attorneys, spouses can tailor agreements to meet their unique needs and circumstances. This level of customization is rarely achievable through litigation, where decisions are ultimately made by a judge who may not fully understand the intricacies of the family dynamic. In other words, settling out of court allows the parties to decide what is best for their family.

Mediation: A Key Tool in Resolving Divorce Disputes

Mediation is a particularly effective tool for resolving divorce disputes outside of court. In mediation, a neutral third-party mediator facilitates discussions between the spouses, helping them identify areas of agreement and explore solutions to areas of disagreement. Mediation promotes open communication and encourages spouses to work together to reach mutually acceptable resolutions. Many couples find that mediation allows them to resolve their differences more quickly and cost-effectively than traditional litigation.

Legal Requirements and Court Approval

Reaching a settlement is not necessarily a simple process; there are specific legal requirements that must be met for a divorce agreement to be valid and enforceable in Illinois. Agreements must be comprehensive and address all relevant issues, including the division of marital property, allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody), parenting time (visitation), child support, and spousal maintenance (alimony). There is a lot of ground to cover and a lot of areas of potential disagreement.

Once a settlement agreement has been reached, it must be presented to the court for approval and incorporation into the final divorce decree. The court will review the agreement to ensure that it complies with Illinois law and is in the best interests of any children involved. Once approved, the settlement becomes legally binding, and both parties are required to abide by its terms.

Reach Out to Experienced Divorce Attorneys in Chicago Today

While the prospect of divorce may initially seem daunting, it is important to recognize that there are alternatives to lengthy and adversarial court battles. By seeking the guidance of experienced legal professionals, couples can often achieve amicable and mutually beneficial settlements that pave the way for a smoother transition to the next chapter of their lives. Having a skilled and experienced attorney in your corner is the best way to achieve a settlement out of court that will benefit your family and your future. Reach out to the family law firm of O. Long Law, LLC, to schedule your consultation with a Chicago divorce attorney today.

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