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Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce in Illinois

 Posted on September 13, 2019 in Family Law

If the honeymoon phase is both literally and figuratively over in your marriage, you and your partner may decide that it is in both of your best interests to get a divorce. In Illinois, there are two different types of divorce – contested and uncontested. Even if you both agree that you want a divorce, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll have an uncontested divorce, so to better help you understand divorce in Illinois, we break down both options in today’s blog.

Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce is the simpler form of the two divorces, but even if you both agree that you want a quick and easy divorce, it doesn’t mean you’re automatically guaranteed an uncontested divorce. Both parties need to agree that they want a divorce in order to pursue an uncontested divorce, but they also need to come to agreement on many other items, including but not limited to:

  • Property and asset division
  • Spousal support
  • Child support
  • Child custody

Now, it’s also worth noting that just because you don’t see eye to eye on some asset division or custody matter, it doesn’t mean that you’re automatically headed for a contested divorce. An uncontested divorce is all about give and take and the ability to negotiate. If, however, you’re both dead set on getting full custody or taking the vacation home you purchased together, you may need to consider a contested divorce.

Contested Divorce

As the name implies, this type of divorce means both parties cannot come to an agreement over some aspect of their divorce and they need the court to make a ruling. You may need to appear in court or before a mediator more than once in order to resolve the contested aspects of your divorce. The judge has the final say in the matter, so be careful what you wish for if you head to a contested divorce. Instead of granting one of you the rights to the vacation home, the judge may order that it be sold and the profits split evenly, so it’s in your best interests to try to work something out before it gets to this point.

Regardless of whether or not you’re trying for an uncontested divorce, it’s almost always in your best interests to hire a lawyer. Even if you think it’s going to be an easy and equitable split, a lawyer will help ensure everything is fair. Do not, and we put this in bold because it can’t be understated, but do not go into a divorce without a lawyer if your spouse has a lawyer. Don’t assume they are just there to ensure a fair split or that they’ll work with you too. That lawyer is getting paid by your spouse and is solely focused on satisfying the wishes of their client, not you. You should always consider getting a lawyer during a divorce, but you absolutely need one if your spouse has a lawyer on their side.

And finally, just because both of you have lawyers doesn’t mean it’s a contested divorce. Lawyers are simply there to sift through the legalities and protect the interests of their client. They can help mediate asset or custody division so that an agreement can be reached without going to court. Not only can a lawyer help ensure your divorce is uncontested, but doing so will also save you a lot of time and money. The longer the legal process and court appearances drag on, the more time both of you will be spending on legal fees.

So if you want to help keep your uncontested divorce on track, or you want to contest some parts of your divorce, reach out to the experienced family law attorneys at Appelman Law today.

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