A contested divorce involves a husband and wife who cannot agree on one or more major issue regarding the end of their marriage. In Illinois, a divorce can be contested in a variety of ways, such as if there is a disagreement over where the children will live, or how much child support one parent will pay the other. Many contested divorces end up going to trial where a judge makes decisions regarding child custody, spousal maintenance, and division of marital property.
A Frankfort lawyer can help you understand the contested divorce process. While it may be possible for a knowledgeable divorce lawyer to help you settle differences with your spouse through negotiation, you want a lawyer who is prepared to represent you in a divorce trial, if necessary.
Taking a divorce to trial is usually a last resort. That is because several methods exist for negotiating a contested divorce before a trial become necessary. This includes mediation and arbitration.
Illinois law requires all divorcing couples who have children to attempt to iron out their differences in mediation first. A trained mediator can help facilitate a discussion that leads to agreement on all important matters.
The easiest way to end just about any legal dispute is to settle, which is when both sides come to an agreement without having to resort to litigation. When a couple divorces, settling is highly encouraged but not always attainable, especially if there is hostility between the parties. When this happens, it may be necessary to go through the process of a contested divorce.
Parties to a divorce in Illinois are required to disclose their financial information. If necessary, discovery can help determine whether the opposing party is hiding marital assets.
If the divorce must be decided in a trial, each side will have the opportunity to present witness testimony. Each side can also cross-examine opposing witnesses and make closing arguments.
Depending on the circumstances, it might become necessary to recruit an expert witness. This can include professionals such a forensic accountant who can accurately evaluate complex forms of wealth the couple accumulated while married. You could also have a vocational expert to testify as to the employability of one of the parties.
Custody is based on the best interests of the children. As such, the judge in a divorce trial may appoint a guardian ad litem (“GAL”) to evaluate what kind of parenting plan would be in a child’s best interest. A GAL is considered the “eyes and ears” of the Court and the role of the GAL is to investigate the situation, and make a recommendation to the Court. If the parties agree with the GAL, they can avoid a trial, but the GAL’s recommendation is not always followed by a Judge.
A contested divorce requires solid legal guidance, especially if children or significant marital assets are involved. A Frankfort divorce lawyer could help you understand what the contested divorce would look like for you and can advocate for you throughout the process. Call Reidy Law Office LLC today to get started.