What is the Difference Between Contested and Uncontested Divorce?

Posted on in Divorce

When a marriage breaks down, and a couple decides to get divorced, they are likely to experience some emotional trauma, and their distress will only be compounded by uncertainty over the cost and procedures of legally dissolving their marital union. Fortunately, some anxiety can be avoided by informing oneself about divorce laws in Illinois. One thing divorcing spouses should be aware of is the difference between contested and uncontested divorce.

Understanding Contested Divorce in Illinois

In Illinois, the only grounds for divorce (that is, the legal requirement for ending a marriage) recognized by state law are “irreconcilable differences.” Rather than demonstrating a reason why the marriage should be dissolved, a person only needs to state in their divorce petition that the relationship has irretrievably broken down. If the couple does not agree that this is the case, irreconcilable differences will be presumed if they have lived “separate and apart” for at least six months.

Rather than describing a disagreement about the reasons for a divorce itself, a contested divorce occurs in Illinois when a couple disagrees about the legal issues that they must resolve as they go about dissolving their partnership. If a divorce is truly uncontested, and the spouses agree on all matters, they may attend a court hearing to finalize their divorce decree and complete the divorce process. However, it is likely that even if spouses are in agreement about most issues, some issues will be contested, and these issues must be resolved before the divorce can be completed.

Allocation of Parental Responsibility and Parenting Time

Decisions about the children of divorcing spouses are one of the most commonly-contested issues in divorce cases. Parents must make decisions about how parental responsibility will be allocated, with Illinois law describing four areas of decision-making responsibility which will be either shared between parents or allocated to one parent. Those areas are: education, medical care, religion, and extracurricular activities.

In addition, divorcing spouses must decide on a schedule for the time their children will spend with each parent. Parenting time schedules should specify a daily schedule for children, as well as how holidays and school vacations (including spring, summer, and winter breaks) will be divided between parents. Parents should also make decisions about when children will be picked up and dropped off and arrangements for transportation.

Asset Division

The division of marital property is often one of the key issues to be resolved during a contested divorce. Illinois law requires an equitable distribution of marital assets during the divorce process, meaning that all property (including physical possessions, real estate, retirement funds or pensions, and vehicles) and debts acquired by either spouse after getting married must be fairly and equitably allocated between spouses before the marriage can be dissolved.

Contact a Warrenville Divorce Attorney

Even if spouses agree on most issues, some aspects of their divorce are likely to be contested. While these issues can be resolved in court through litigation, it is often preferable to work toward reaching a divorce settlement through negotiation, mediation, or collaborative law. If you want to know more about how the Law Offices of Nancy Kasko, LLC can help you reach a workable agreement and complete the divorce process as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible, contact a Winfield divorce lawyer. Call our office at 630-836-8540 to schedule a free consultation.