As part of the Illinois divorce process, if a divorcing party is not able to resolve all of the pertinent divorce-related issues present in their case, the case will proceed to a “trial.” This is not like the trials you may see on popular television shows: this trial will be in front of the judge assigned to your case, and will not be heard by a jury. The only people that will be present will be the parties themselves, the attorneys for each of the parties, and any witnesses the parties intend on examining for the purpose of helping the court decide the unresolved issue(s). Although a divorce “trial” typically lasts much shorter than a civil or criminal trial that is to be decided by a jury, divorce trials can nonetheless be equally draining and costly. So how do you know when you should attempt to settle your divorce case and when you should proceed with a trial?
Factors to Consider before Settling Your Divorce Case
A popular song from yesteryear declared that “you have to know when to hold ‘em . . . [and] know when to fold ‘em.” In some ways, divorce can resemble a game of strategy: there are issues that can and should be litigated and matters that are so inconsequential that spending much time arguing with the other party over them is a waste of resources. In attempting to determine if a particular issue falls into one category or the other, ask yourself these two important questions:
- How important is “winning” this particular issue to me . . . really? Some individuals in a divorce spend a significant amount of time and resources attempting to “win” every issue and dispute just to be able to claim a “victory” over their spouse. These individuals truly win the battle but often lose the war. If you have not driven your spouse’s antique car or used the china you and your partner received for your wedding, consider whether it truly is advantageous to you to spend time fighting about who gets these things. Discuss with your DuPage County divorce attorney the expenses involved in having a particular issue litigated. While some issues may be worth fighting for no matter the cost (i.e., child custody), it may not make sense to spend $2,500 in attorney’s fees to obtain a $500 piece of property; and
- How likely am I to “win” this issue? Depending on the particular issue in question, the court may apply one of several legal tests to determine how to resolve the issue. Discuss the issue with your attorney ahead of time to learn what legal test the court will apply. Your attorney can also help you determine if the facts that the court will review in making its determination are in your favor.
Ultimately it is your decision whether you want to settle issues in your divorce case or have a judge decide the issue. At our firm, our skilled DuPage County family law attorneys can help you make an informed and well-advised decision in this regard. Contact our Oswego, Chicago, or Wheaton office today for experienced legal assistance.