Ending a marriage is never an easy experience, even when you and your spouse have reached a mutual decision to divorce. The actual legal process of dissolution is more detailed than many people expect, and every marriage will involve unique problems and issues that will be reflected in the couple’s divorce proceedings. There are various ways any divorce may unfold, but the two most common options for resolving these cases are litigation and alternative dispute resolution, usually mediation.

You may not need to brace for an emotionally charged court battle to resolve your divorce. On the other hand, an amicable, quiet divorce mutually resolved through alternative dispute resolution may not be a realistic expectation for your divorce. Whatever your situation entails, the right legal counsel can tremendously impact the direction your divorce proceedings take in Metro East, IL.

Divorce Litigation in Illinois

When many people imagine a divorce playing out, they think of heated exchanges in impersonal courtrooms. While some divorces will require formal legal review through the litigation process, litigation isn’t necessary for resolving every divorce in Metro East, IL. You may have options for avoiding litigation, namely alternative dispute resolution, but you need a good divorce attorney to help you take advantage of them.

If you are compelled to complete your divorce through litigation, the process may take several months or longer to resolve. The complexity of your case and your spouse’s willingness to compromise will largely dictate the pace of litigation. Both spouses have the right to present evidence, call witnesses, and offer testimony. The judge overseeing the divorce case evaluates all such evidence and testimony before delivering a ruling that aligns with Illinois state law.

Litigation is the most stressful, expensive, and time-consuming method of resolving a divorce. You should have an experienced family lawyer on your side as you navigate your case proceedings, and a good attorney can prepare you for each of your courtroom sessions. However, the more time your attorney spends working on your case, the more expensive your legal fees may be. Be sure you fully understand an attorney’s billing policy before agreeing to have them represent you in litigation, especially if they use an hourly billing system.

Understanding Alternative Dispute Resolution

Most divorcing couples in the United States prefer to avoid the stress and expense of litigation, instead taking advantage of alternative dispute resolution. Three forms of alternative dispute resolution are used to resolve divorces in Illinois: arbitration, collaborative divorce, and mediation.

Arbitration is the least flexible option and essentially equates to a trial by a judge. Your divorce will unfold solely before a judge in private sessions. The judge will consider everything you and your spouse have to say before delivering a final, binding ruling on the divorce. Collaborative divorce is not as stringent, and this process entails the spouses and their respective attorneys meeting privately to negotiate their divorce. The couple will negotiate each item of their divorce until they resolve as much as they can privately. They then take their freshly negotiated divorce terms before a judge for final approval. If they cannot resolve all their divorce-related issues privately, the final litigation review offers them the chance to do so in a streamlined manner.

Divorce mediation has quickly become the most popular method of resolving a divorce in the United States. Similar to collaborative divorce, this option for alternative dispute resolution is private and unfolds at the convenience of the divorcing spouses. They can take as much or as little time as they want in mediation, and a neutral mediator will assist them in drafting their divorce order. Mediation offers an advantage similar to the one provided by collaborative divorce in that the couple can keep their negotiations private and have more control over the outcome. However, the couple has the added reassurance of the mediator’s presence to clarify any legal statutes they do not understand and to help them draft their divorce agreement.

Some issues cannot be resolved privately, no matter how agreeable the couple may be toward one another. Specifically, divorcing parents cannot privately negotiate child custody or child support. They may resolve property division, alimony, and other financial issues through alternative dispute resolution, but a judge must have the final say when it comes to child custody and child support.

Benefits of Mediation

Mediation offers several advantages not only over litigation but also over other options for alternative dispute resolution. Your mediation sessions will unfold in a private location, typically the mediator’s office or a private conference room. The mediator will guide discussions, keeping the conversation focused and productive. As the couple negotiates their divorce terms, the mediator helps them draft their divorce order.

Mediators will generally schedule one-on-one sessions with each spouse and collaborative sessions with both sides. The couple negotiates the terms of their divorce until they reach a mutually agreeable set of terms for the judge to approve. If any issues linger that the couple can’t resolve through mediation, the couple simply brings them before a judge, resolving the rest of their divorce through expedited litigation. Even when mediation cannot be used to solve every problem a divorce entails, it can still streamline proceedings substantially.

If you are preparing to divorce, it is vital to consider the potential benefits of exploring alternative dispute resolution. You could save a substantial amount of time and money on your divorce, and you are also likely to reach much more agreeable results and have more influence over the outcome of your divorce. When you litigate, the judge has the final say on every aspect of your divorce, and there is no guarantee they will see things your way.

Ultimately, reliable legal counsel is invaluable when facing a difficult divorce. Whatever your case may entail, you will be best suited to meet the challenges ahead of you when you are backed by legal representation you can trust. Contact an experienced Metro East, IL, divorce attorney to learn more about your options for avoiding litigation in divorce.