Tag Archives: divorce trial

Should You Take Your Divorce Case to Trial?

Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyer, Illinois child custody lawyer,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:

  1. 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
  2. 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.



Bifurcated Judgments and Divorce

marital negotiations, Illinois divorce attorney, divorce trial, Ordinarily, divorce proceedings are handled in a single hearing. This means that there is a single proceeding in which the court both enters an official judgment dissolving the marriage and settles issues like property division and child custody. However, there are certain circumstances under which the court can hold two separate hearings, one to dissolve the marriage officially and another to settle the practical issues like property division. These sorts of proceedings, known officially as bifurcated judgments, are allowed under Illinois family law 750 ILCS 5/401(b). Yet, the law only allows for these sorts of split judgments under a limited set of circumstances, and even when they are allowed, they come with a set of pros and cons that need to be weighed.

When Bifurcated Judgments Are Available

Illinois statutory law allows for bifurcated judgments under “appropriate circumstances.” This vague standard has left it largely to the courts to determine when such circumstances exist. Courts have been creating non-exhaustive lists ever since. Generally speaking, the circumstances are appropriate whenever one of the parties has an interest in terminating the marriage in a timely manner and it does not unduly prejudice the other spouse. For instance, there was a divorce case in which a woman was dying of disease, and was not expected to live long enough to make it through a conventional divorce. She was allowed a bifurcated judgment for estate planning purposes. In another case, a married woman was seeking a divorce so that she could marry another man. She was already pregnant with the other man’s child, and sought the bifurcated divorce so that she could marry him quickly. The court allowed this because the other man was better able to provide for her and the child’s medical care. These are just some of the many examples of circumstances where courts may consider using a bifurcated judgment.

The Pros and Cons of Bifurcated Judgments

As previously mentioned, bifurcated judgments often come with a variety of pros and cons. Usually, many of the benefits are specific to the individual cases, like the ones above. It may be an issue of estate planning, insurance, or some other legal formality, but generally speaking it is a situation in which formally ending the marital rights as quickly as possible is beneficial in its own right. Beyond that, there is also an emotional benefit to making a quick end of the marriage. The difficulties of these sorts of judgments are twofold. First, there is the practical issue that it will require two separate legal hearings, which means more time in court. Second, the end of the marriage is often a powerful factor in making spouses settle contentious issues. With that already taken care of, many parties become more stubborn, which can lead to a judge making more of the decisions.

If you believe you could benefit from a bifurcated divorce or you simply have more questions about the practicalities of the divorce process, contact an experienced DuPage County divorce lawyer today. Our professionals are standing by to answer any questions you may have.