A contested divorce in Illinois can take several months to a year or more, depending on the complexity of the case. If parties are willing to cooperate and reach a settlement, it can significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to resolve the divorce. Contested divorce cases, however, will usually take longer to resolve than uncontested divorces. These cases are also often more expensive and can be more emotionally exhausting. An experienced Illinois divorce lawyer can help evaluate your case and determine how long your divorce may take to resolve.
What Is a Contested Divorce?
A contested divorce is a divorce in which the parties are unable to agree on one or more issues, such as property division, child custody, or alimony. These issues must be resolved through the court system, either through a trial or through multiple court appearances. There are several differences between a contested and an uncontested divorce. Contested divorces are typically more time-consuming and expensive than uncontested divorces, as they require the involvement of lawyers and the court.
A divorce is considered contested if parties do not agree on any of the following:
- Whether to get a divorce
- Where the children should live
- How much child support should be paid
- How property should be split up
- Who should pay certain debts
- Whether spousal support should be ordered
Another difference between contested and uncontested divorces in Illinois is the ability to appeal. In an uncontested divorce, the parties mutually agree to the terms of the divorce. As such, uncontested divorces are generally not up for appeal. In a contested divorce, however, the judge decides the terms of the divorce, and if a party is displeased with the judge’s decision, the party can appeal the entire decision or part of it.
The Contested Divorce Process in Illinois
The contested divorce process in Illinois involves filing a petition for divorce with the court and serving it to the other party. The other party then has the opportunity to file a response, and the case proceeds to a hearing or trial, where a judge will make a determination on issues such as property division, child custody, and spousal support. If the parties are unable to reach a settlement, the case will go to trial, and the judge will make a final decision based on the evidence presented. The process can take several months or even longer, depending on the complexity of the case and the court’s schedule. There may also be additional steps like mediation and appeals if one party is not satisfied with the decision.
Factors That Impact How Long a Contested Divorce Takes
There are several factors that can impact how long a contested divorce takes in Illinois, such as complexity, the court’s schedule, the parties’ cooperation, and the availability of expert witnesses.
The complexity of the case: If there are many disputed issues or a high level of acrimony between the parties, the process may take longer.
Court schedule: The availability of court dates and the backlog of cases in the court system can also affect the timeline.
Cooperation of the parties: If the parties are able to agree on some issues and work together, the process may move more quickly. However, if the parties are not able to agree on anything, the process may take longer.
Availability of expert witness: if the case requires expert witness, the time of the expert witness availability can impact the timeline.
If both parties are represented by attorneys, you may be able to speed up the process by having the attorneys negotiate and resolve disputes. An Illinois divorce lawyer will help you understand how long your case may take to resolve.
What to Do If Your Spouse Is Stalling Your Divorce
There are several reasons why one spouse may refuse to sign divorce papers. Some common reasons include religious reasons, denial, fear of financial instability, fear of judgment, or domestic abuse. If your spouse won’t sign divorce papers, there are several steps you can take:
- Communicate with your spouse. Try to understand why your spouse is stalling and see if there is a way to resolve any issues that may be causing the delay.
- File a Motion to Compel: If your spouse is not cooperating with discovery or other aspects of the divorce process, you can file a motion with the court asking the judge to order your spouse to comply.
- Use mediation or alternative dispute resolution: If your spouse is stalling because they are unwilling to negotiate or compromise, consider using a neutral third party to help you reach an agreement.
- File a Motion for Expedited Hearing: If your spouse is delaying the divorce process, you can file a motion for an expedited hearing to ask the judge to move up the date of the hearing.
- Seek legal representation: If you haven’t already, consider hiring a divorce attorney who can help you navigate the process and represent your interests in court.
- Be prepared for your court hearing: If your spouse is stalling, it’s important to be prepared for your court hearing by gathering evidence and having a clear understanding of your position and what you are asking for in the divorce.
You can file for divorce without your spouse knowing, but your divorce cannot be finalized until you make a reasonable attempt to serve your spouse with divorce papers. If you are having difficulty serving the other spouse, you may be able to your spouse through service by publication. Service by publication involves publishing the divorce notice in a local newspaper. If you have served your spouse through traditional service or by an approved alternative method, your spouse typically has 30 days to respond. He or she can respond by either agreeing or disagreeing with the terms of the divorce. If your spouse fails to respond, you will be allowed to proceed on a motion to default your spouse.