When you think of how divorce is portrayed publicly, you may imagine bitter fights between two people who no longer can stand each other. There are many kinds of divorces, and this particular type is called a contested divorce.
Every state has different requirements for what entails a contested divorce, but it typically describes a situation when two people want to get divorced but do not agree to the terms. Under Illinois law, however, the following situations are considered contested divorces:
- When one party is contesting the very attempt to divorce (i.e. one wants the divorce and the other does not);
- When there is a disagreement over custody and a child’s living arrangement;
- When the parties have differing views on spousal support or child support; and
- When the parties disagree on how to divide the debts and assets.
To account for the fact that individuals may agree to some aspects but disagree to other aspects of the divorce, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act has created a bifurcated process in which to handle contested divorces. This means the divorce proceedings/trials are divided into two main parts. The first part deals with grounds or the reason for the divorce itself, while the second part addresses issues such as custody, alimony, debt allocation, etc.
Bifurcated Divorce Process
During the first part of the bifurcated divorce process, the parties have the opportunity to prove or disprove the grounds for divorce. If the court determines there is a grounds to divorce, it will move forward. Grounds for dissolution of marriage include mental or physical abuse, habitual drunkenness, excessive drug use, adultery, willful desertion for over one year, STD transmission, and attempted poisoning/harm.
Once the grounds for divorce are determined, the court will move onto the next set of issues, which typically entails child custody, spousal support, and asset/debt allocation. This can be an understandably heated process because it gets into the specifics of a separation and how it will practically impact you and your children’s lives for years to come. During this process you can request discovery from your spouse in order to investigate any and all financial issues that may be at issue. You can also call on individuals to testify at the divorce proceedings on issues such as custody.
Because contested divorces often take months or years to resolve, a court will frequently issue a temporary order that governs such pressing issues as child custody until the divorce is finalized. While this can also be subject to disagreement, typically the judge will limit time spent arguing on a temporary order because it is just that, temporary.
Our Attorneys Can Help
Contested divorces can be extremely messy. You will need an experienced DuPage County divorce lawyer who can represent your interests while moving the process along as quickly as possible. Do not hesitate to reach out to our office today to discuss your divorce.