Litigation is the right option when divorce becomes contentious. Most divorces are resolved through out-of-court methods, such as collaborative divorce and divorce mediation. These options are preferred due to their privacy, cost-effectiveness, and their emphasis on collaboration over contentious arguments. Unfortunately, some divorces need to be handled through court. This may be to protect a spouse’s rights or to reach a needed conclusion to the process. A Bloomington divorce attorney can help you determine what is right for your situation.

What Is a Contested Divorce?

There are several essential decisions to be made during a divorce, including property division and spousal support. If a couple has children, decisions must be made about custody and child support. When couples can agree on these matters or are willing to discuss them, this is an uncontested divorce. Then, the final separation agreement is presented to the court for approval.

A contested divorce occurs when couples cannot agree on the terms of a divorce or when spouses do not even agree they should be getting divorced. Contested divorces may begin outside of court, but a couple may later determine that they cannot agree on some or all of the important decisions.

When a divorce is contested, this often means that it is handled through litigation. The family court will make the final decision on any divorce aspects that a couple could not agree to out of court.

Each spouse can present their case for what they would like from a divorce settlement, and this is much easier with a qualified attorney. However, the final choice is up to the family court judge. This can be incredibly stressful for many individuals. An attorney is essential to give the judge the most information needed to make decisions that are right for your family. A skilled lawyer can also more effectively advocate for your needs. Although there is still less control in litigation, an attorney can help.

Litigation is rarely the ideal resolution but, for some couples or individual spouses, it is the right option to protect their well-being or their rights.

Situations When Litigation May Be the Right Answer

Even when you and your spouse are getting a contested divorce, this doesn’t automatically mean that you need to litigate the divorce. Even spouses who have difficulty getting along could opt for an option like collaborative divorce, which ensures that each spouse has legal representation while keeping the process private.

Sometimes, litigation is the right option or the only remaining option. You, or you and your spouse, may decide that litigation is necessary for several reasons. Some of these include:

  • The two of you are unable to reach any solutions or can’t speak with each other.
  • Your spouse is unwilling to make any compromises or discuss important matters.
  • Your spouse has more financial resources than you, and this makes for unfair negotiations.
  • You are facing unfair property division, spousal support, or child support requests.
  • Your spouse is purposefully dragging out discussions out of spite or manipulation.
  • Your spouse has other power over you due to emotional abuse or financial abuse.
  • You or your children are in danger from your spouse.

When spouses are not entering negotiations on equal terms, one spouse can have a harder time protecting their personal rights and their financial future. Taking the case to court and working with a compassionate attorney can help protect your rights and your family’s future.

Downsides to Litigation

Although there are benefits to litigation, it is essential to make informed decisions and be aware of the negatives of a court divorce. These include:

  • There are higher attorney and court costs.
  • The process is much longer.
  • Litigation must wait for the court’s availability.
  • You must attend stressful court dates.
  • It can be harder on children.
  • The proceedings are public record.

When deciding how to handle your divorce, talk with an experienced attorney.


Q: What Is a Wife Entitled to in a Divorce Settlement in Illinois?

A: In Illinois, both spouses are entitled to the same rights to marital property, the potential for spousal support, child custody, and child support. Each family will be reviewed according to their unique circumstances, regardless of gender. When spouses negotiate their divorce settlement outside of court, they can determine how they divide property and award spousal support. These agreements will be approved by the court as long as they are fair.

Q: What Happens When a Divorce Goes to Trial in Illinois?

A: When your divorce goes to trial, the final decisions on important matters will be under the court’s jurisdiction. Property division will be subject to Illinois’s equitable distribution laws, which means that marital property is split equitably. Child custody and child support are determined based on several factors, with the child’s interests as the primary motivator.

Divorces handled through trial take much longer than those settled out of court, and they are often more expensive. Because the court makes the final decision, spouses also have less control regarding the outcome.

Q: Is It Better to Be the Petitioner or Respondent in Divorce in Illinois?

A: There are no legal benefits to being either the petitioner or respondent when filing for a divorce, but there may be a strategic benefit. If you are the petitioner, it means that:

  • You can choose which county to file in.
  • You present your side to the court first.
  • You have time before you file to find an attorney.

If you are the respondent, it means that:

  • You can hear your spouse’s side before presenting your own.
  • You may not want a divorce.

An attorney can help you determine what is ideal for you.

Q: How Long Can a Spouse Drag Out a Divorce in Illinois?

A: In a contested and litigated divorce, a spouse can make it more difficult for the court to reach a conclusion, but the court will eventually reach a result. The court may also adjust the court order based on a spouse’s uncooperativeness.

If a divorce is being handled through out-of-court means, a resolution requires agreement from both spouses. This means that a spouse who wants to drag out the process could do so for as long as they want. If you believe that your spouse is doing this, taking the case to court may be in your interests.

Finding the Right Option for You

No divorce is easy, but contentious or abusive circumstances make it much more emotionally straining. Contact Stange Law Firm for experienced legal advice about your divorce.