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Wheaton, IL divorce litigation attorneyTV shows and movies often depict divorces as dramatic confrontations inside the courtroom. However, the vast majority of divorce cases do not go to trial. Litigation is only necessary when a divorcing couple is unable to reach agreements on issues such as property division, the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, and spousal maintenance. Most divorcing couples are able to resolve these issues through lawyer-facilitated negotiations, mediation, or collaborative law. If a couple cannot reach a settlement, the case may go to trial. 

What Should I Expect During a Divorce Trial?

Divorcing spouses may need to make one or more court appearances during the dissolution of their marriage, even if the couple agrees about divorce issues. However, these court appearances are not the same thing as a divorce trial. During a divorce trial, a judge hears arguments from both sides and then issues a ruling regarding the unresolved issues. Divorce trials do not involve a jury, but they are otherwise conducted similarly to other types of civil trials. 

Before the start of the trial, each spouse and his or her attorney will gather information and evidence that support their arguments. This information-gathering process is called “discovery.” Discovery may involve written interrogatories, requests for admission, depositions, and other means of obtaining information about the facts of the case.

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DuPage County divorce lawyer petition discovery trialThere are two types of divorce cases: contested and uncontested. An uncontested divorce is one in which the spouses are able to come to an agreement about property division, parental responsibilities, parenting time, spousal support, and any other issues that must be resolved before their marriage can be dissolved. If the spouses cannot reach an agreement about one or more of these issues, they enter into a contested divorce. Read on to learn about the typical steps involved in an Illinois contested divorce and how you can get the legal support you need during this process.

Filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage

The first step in the Illinois divorce process is filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with your county circuit court. The person who files the divorce Petition is called the petitioner, and the other spouse is referred to as the respondent. When you file for divorce, you have a legal obligation to notify the respondent. You may do this in person, via certified mail, or through a deputy sheriff. The respondent must respond to the petition within 30 days, and he or she may file a response to the petition or a counter-petition.

Discovery

The term “discovery” is used to refer to the divorce phase in which spouses and their lawyers gather information about income, assets, child-related issues, and other matters relevant to the divorce case. This process may include financial disclosures, requests for production, interrogatories, admissions of facts, and depositions. The exchange of such information will ensure that both parties have the facts necessary to support their claims and arguments during a contested divorce.

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Posted on in Divorce

Lombard divorce lawyer trialWhile most people assume that the divorce process is heated and highly contentious, many divorces can be resolved through settlement agreements. Divorcing spouses may be able to reach an agreement through mediation or negotiations between the spouses and their respective legal teams. In some cases, however, certain issues cannot be resolved, and the divorce has to go to trial. In the event of a divorce trial, proper preparation is critical to securing a positive outcome for you and your family. If you are contemplating divorce, it is important to seek out the legal guidance of a professional you can trust. 

Four Critical Pre-Trial Steps 

Once your divorce goes to trial, the decisions made by the judge will depend on the evidence presented and the performance of both you and your attorney throughout the trial. While a judge’s decision can be appealed in some cases, these decisions are usually final. Before you go to trial, it is crucial to be as prepared as possible by taking the following steps: 

  1. Be Professional: As you get ready for the trial, your attorney will speak with you regarding appropriate behavior in the hearing process. Wearing appropriate clothing, only speaking when asked to speak, and not using your mobile phone while in the courtroom are great places to start. It is also important for you to remain composed and avoid being disrespectful while your spouse is testifying. Proving that you can keep your cool throughout the trial can only work in your favor. 
  2. Prove Your Responsibility as a Parent: If you are hoping to secure significant parenting responsibilities in your trial, you need to show that you are prepared for independent parenting. Be ready to answer questions regarding your views on your child’s academic goals, extra-curricular activities, and health. Demonstrating that your living arrangement is suitable for a child can also go a long way in impacting a judge’s decisions. 
  3. Discuss Your Goals: During pre-trial discussions with your attorney, you should discuss your goals for the trial. If there are specific marital assets you hope to secure, your attorney can develop a strategy based on retaining ownership of those assets. If your top priority is child custody, your lawyer’s pre-trial preparation will be centered around the steps you need to take to ensure you have a meaningful relationship with your children moving forward. 
  4. Prepare for Testifying and Potential Cross-Examination: It is understandable to feel nervous as you prepare for a divorce trial. Testifying in court can be a nerve-wracking experience, and facing potential cross-examination from your spouse’s legal team can cause a great deal of anxiety. With the help of your attorney and extensive practice and preparation, you will be ready to answer any questions posed to you. 

Contact a Wheaton Family Law Attorney 

When divorcing from your spouse, it is common to feel a wide array of emotions. As you navigate the legal and emotional aspects of your divorce, a knowledgeable lawyer can assist you in resolving the issues that arise. At the Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C., we will assist in negotiations between you and your spouse or help guide you through the mediation process. If your divorce goes to trial, we are prepared to aggressively litigate on your behalf. To schedule an initial consultation with an experienced DuPage County divorce attorney, call us today at 630-462-9500.

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