Few divorcing couples agree on every term, but many find a way to hammer out terms that they are both willing to sign off on – with the professional legal counsel of their respective Chicago divorce attorneys. A contested divorce ultimately means that there are one or more divorce terms that the couple is unable to negotiate without turning to the court.
While few divorces are smooth sailing, contested divorces tend to be the most complicated and contentious of all. It’s important to note, however, that if your divorcing spouse refuses to negotiate in good faith, a contested divorce in which the court intervenes on your behalf may be your best option.
The Contested Term(s)
In the course of your divorce, all of the following terms must be negotiated (or determined by the court):
- The division of your marital assets
- Your child custody arrangements (called parenting responsibilities and parenting time in Illinois)
- Child support
- Spousal support (or alimony)
Any element within any one of these terms can cause your divorce to be contested. It’s important to point out, however, that conceding to terms that do not support your parental and financial rights simply to avoid conflict – and a contested divorce – is not a good divorce strategy.
The Basic Steps Toward a Contested Divorce
If there is little to no doubt that your divorce is headed toward contested territory, there are some basic steps that you should take, including:
- Make Copies of the Supporting Documents– Your divorce will hinge primarily on your financial documents, which you should compile as early in the process as possible. Such documents should include your mortgage, you and your spouse’s wages, statements from bank accounts and retirement accounts, your financial portfolio, and everything else that pertains to your financials.
- Consult with an Experienced Chicago Divorce Attorney– Anyone who is divorcing is well advised to consult with an attorney, but if your divorce is contested, you should not forego this important step. Your knowledgeable attorney will help you firm up your divorce priorities and help you begin the process of establishing a strategy for moving forward.
- Engage in the Discovery Process– Once you’ve filed your divorce paperwork, the discovery phase will begin. This is where you and your divorcing spouse must provide each other with documentation and information related to marital and separate assets – in addition to income, debts, and other pertinent documentation. This is where you’ll look carefully for any signs that your soon-to-be-ex is attempting to hide assets or engage in any other less-than-honest practices.
- Negotiate Terms– When it comes to divorce, it isn’t over until it’s over. This means that you can negotiate terms (if you are able to come to a meeting of the minds) at any point in the process. Even if you are able to negotiate one or more terms (and remove them from the court’s decision-making power), you will likely be doing yourself a favor.
Turn to an Experienced Chicago Divorce Attorney for the Legal Help You Need
The resourceful Chicago divorce attorneys at Arami Family Law, Inc. are well acquainted with the difficult ins and outs of divorce and are committed to helping you navigate your best path forward. For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.