It can be very important to understand the roles of each party in a Will County divorce so that you can have a better perspective on how each part of a separation procedure comes together. The main parties involved include the petitioner, the respondent, the judge, and if necessary, a mediator and guardian ad litem. Knowing how each of these characters comes into play during the court process can be imperative to helping you make the most well-informed decisions regarding your separation. Read on to learn more about the roles of each party in a Will County divorce, as well as the ways a skilled family attorney could offer you their assistance today.

The Petitioner and Respondent

The spouse who initiated the filing for their divorce is known as the petitioner. The other party is referred to as the respondent. The respondent has the option to file a counter-petition, which should be determined in a case by case situation. It is important to note that there is no strategic advantage inherent in being the first to file. While the petitioner may have some control over the situation because they know when the process is going to start, this status does not affect the ultimate outcome of one’s child custody or spousal maintenance agreements in any way.

The Judge

The judge’s role is to determine the outcome of the case. If the parties have a written agreement, the judge is bound by that agreement so long as it is not unconscionable – meaning that nobody in their right mind would accept the terms of that agreement if they knew about it. If there are arguments between the parties, the judge hears the parties out and makes a decision. The judge ultimately determines a separating couple’s division of assets, child custody agreements, maintenance amounts, and any other relevant legal issues.

The Mediator

While mediation is typically limited to child-related issues in Illinois, you may still choose to mediate your finances. The role of a mediator is to help both parties come to some sort of agreement before a trial. It is important to note that mediation is a private, non-binding process. This means that if someone agrees to something that they do not ultimately feel comfortable with, they cannot be held to that agreement in court. This process can help a couple’s attorneys draft an agreement and ultimately take it to the judge for examination if necessary.

Guardian Ad Litem

While children are not official parties within a divorce case, they can still have a role in its outcome if the care, parenting time, and decision-making process for the children is an issue. Often, if the children will play an important role in the case, someone is typically appointed to act on their behalf. This individual is known as a guardian ad litem. Their role is to act as a representative or attorney for your children and will meet with all the parties involved in order to figure out what is going on in a case of abuse or neglect. While a judge may only meet with the parties in court, the guardian ad litem can do this out of court and give the judge their opinion on the events. These recommendations can often lead to a resolution of a case.

While understanding the roles of each party in a Will County divorce can feel overwhelming at first, know that a dedicated family lawyer can answer any questions you may have while guiding you through the legal process. Consider retaining a professional family lawyer from Reidy Law today for your initial consultation.