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Top 5 Differences between Contested and Uncontested Divorce in Illinois

If you want a quick and affordable divorce, you’ve probably searched the internet for information about divorce in Illinois. You might have come across the terms uncontested divorce, and contested divorce.

As a lawyer who handles many uncontested divorces each year, I know that some people are confused about the differences. So I wrote this article about the differences between an uncontested and contested divorce.

One is very quick, and the other is lengthy

An uncontested divorce in Illinois is the quickest and most affordable way to get divorced. In almost every County, an uncontested divorce can take less than two months, and in some places, it might take a couple weeks.

In contrast, a contested divorce can take a year or more. The more issues there are, the longer it takes. And the harder each party’s fights about the issues, the longer it takes.

Let me give you an example of why a contested divorce takes a long time. Uncontested divorce is made up of many steps. One of those is financial discovery. Financial Discovery entails exchanging copious amounts of financial information and statements. There are financial affidavits to fill out, and many, many documents to provide to the other party. This is a necessary step in the process when a divorce is contested, or litigated.

All that discovery is a necessary step in the process when a divorce is contested, or litigated.

The most basic discovery can take one or two months. And sometimes that type of discovery doesn’t even start for a month or more after a case is filed.

And by the way, Financial discovery doesn’t make anything happen. It is just a precursor so that certain matters can be decided in court.

An uncontested divorce it’s affordable, a contested divorce is expensive

An uncontested divorce is Affordable for several reasons. First, it is obvious that when people agree they have to spend less time fighting, and that equates to less attorney’s fees.

For example, even in a relatively simple case, conducting Financial Discovery can cost several thousand dollars.

In contrast, an uncontested divorce can cost less than the cost of Discovery in a contested case.

Some attorneys in Illinois will handle an uncontested divorce for a flat fee. They can do that because an uncontested divorce has a defined amount of work. So if you are worried about an attorney billing you for a bunch of hours, then you might like the concept of an uncontested divorce. It’s a way to avoid hidden charges. Who like surprises?

Uncontested divorce is relatively stress-free, the opposite is true for a contested case

Have you ever known someone who has been involved in a hotly contested divorce? The person was probably not in a very good mood. Uncontested divorce involves many stressors. Some of them are Financial. For example, paying an attorney. Other stressors have to do with the unpredictable nature of litigation about kids and finances. Some people have a very hard time with a contested divorce.

An uncontested divorce is often relatively stress-free. Call divorce isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time, an uncontested divorce is the easiest way to get divorced in terms of impact on Mental Health.

With an uncontested divorce, stress is relieved because people enjoy a predictable process, know what it will cost them, and get it done with pretty quickly. Usually, stressed is lowered when people can move on quickly. An uncontested divorce in Illinois can help people move on very quickly.

Uncontested case = 1 trip to court

I handle dozens of uncontested divorces each year. With the process I use, my client only needs to come to court on time. That’s pretty good for them. People usually don’t like to take off work to travel to the courthouse. Although a court appearance sometimes only takes an hour, by the time one drives to court and back it seems like half the day is gone. Therefore, it’s very good to minimize Court appearances.

Contested cases can require many trips to court. Again, the number of trips the court depends upon the issues in a given case. But every little issue can require additional trips to court. Also, additional, non-court time is required to be spent in a contested case. For example, people are often required to go to mediation. Mediation can happen on several different occasions. Further, and in-person parenting class might be required. And

For example, people are often required to go to mediation. Mediation can happen on several different occasions. First, there is an intake, then there is an additional meeting, and sometimes there is another meeting after that. Imagine if all those meetings take have a day by the time travel time is considered. That’s a giant time commitment.

Further, and in-person parenting class might be required. And then, of course,  the case may require many trips to court for different hearings.

Trust me, court is in a place where you want to spend a lot of time. An uncontested divorce is a great way to spend as little time in court as possible.

Uncontested case: You decide, not the judge

In an uncontested case, the parties decide what happens. Not true in a contested divorce.

Uncontested divorces are divorces by agreement. That means that the parties themselves determine the terms of the divorce. While it’s true that often both people are not completely happy, it is also true that most often when the parties themselves decide on an agreement there more happy than it if the Court decides.

In fact, in contested cases, judges often admonish people to work the case out so that it does not have to be litigated in court. Many judges I appear in front of tell both parties something like this, “You two should work this out. If I have to decide this case, neither of you will be happy with the result.”

Judges say that not because they are trying to punish anyone, but because they realize that, in many cases, the Parties are more capable than they are of developing an optimal solution.

Being a judge in a divorce case can be very frustrating. Imagine two adverse people arguing about what they want. Sometimes it can be hard to tell who to believe, and when a judge recommends a solution, that solution may actually be worse than the party could generate if they worked together.