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Contested Divorces In Illinois

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Contested divorces usually occur when either of the spouses is served notice and they do not respond or disagree with the grounds for divorce cited.  They may also have issues regarding the allocation of parental responsibilities, child support, spousal maintenance, or issues regarding the distribution of marital assets, such as retirement plans and family-owned businesses.

Whether a divorce is contested or uncontested depends upon the feelings the spouses have and the investments they have made in the marriage. The consideration of what is in the best interests of your children is also paramount in contesting a divorce.

How to Handle a Contested Divorce

A contested divorce can be settled either amicably or in a hostile fashion. The spouse that is served notice can file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage if they wish. It is important to know that even a no-fault divorce can be a contested divorce. The spouses agree to grounds of irreconcilable differences and to not argue about any of the other nine grounds in Illinois law in a no-fault divorce. Even then, disputes may arise on matters such as the allocation of parental responsibilities, parenting time, child support, spousal maintenance, and the distribution of marital property.

Some of the common methods used to resolve a contested divorce are as follows:


It is not mandatory in the state of Illinois to first attempt mediation when filing for divorce unless there are children involved. However, mediation can be worthwhile if you are close to resolving the crucial issues. Mediators are skilled and trained in helping you and your spouse to amicably arrive at an agreement. Attorneys may not represent you in mediation because the whole idea behind this process is for the parties to resolve issues on their own.


Arbitration is a substitute for an in-court divorce trial if mediation proceedings reach an impasse. It is up to both parties to agree on and choose an arbitrator. The couple may also outline their terms as to what procedure is followed and the timeline for the arbitrator to make a decision. Similar to mediation, this approach is less stressful for spouses and families. The aim of arbitration is to foster better communication and provide privacy unlike in a court trial. The arbitrator’s decision usually cannot be appealed.

Collaborative Divorce

Each spouse retains an attorney trained in collaborative law in the collaborative divorce process. Both parties and their attorneys work together and have several meetings to draft an agreement but other collaborative law professionals, such as financial professionals, personal coaches, and child psychologists, may be retained to help resolve specific issues. If a complete agreement cannot be reached, the next step usually is litigation. Both parties will then need to retain new attorneys. In Illinois, collaborative divorce attorneys are disqualified from continuing your case.


If any alternate dispute resolution process that you have tried fails then your divorce issues will be resolved in court through a trial and it usually is part of the public record. In the event of a trial you need an attorney, contact the family law firm of Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. Ours have years of experience in Illinois law as well as with the county courts and judges.

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