The vast majority of divorce cases end via a settlement. The spouses’ respective attorneys are able to negotiate an agreement about property division, child custody, or other contested issues that both parties are satisfied with. The agreement is submitted to the Court and the Court issues a final divorce decree.
However, it is possible for a divorce case to end up at trial. Although rare, it is important for divorcing spouses to recognize that this is a possibility – especially if the case is especially contentious.
Steps in an Illinois Divorce Trial
When divorcing spouses cannot reach an agreement about one or more aspects of the divorce, the Court will make a decision for them. Divorce trials are usually bench trials. This means that a Judge hears arguments from both sides and makes a decision. There usually is not a jury during a divorce trial.
If you suspect that your divorce may go to trial, it is crucial that you work with an attorney with ample litigation experience. Each case is different, but divorce trials typically include the following:
- Pre-trial conferences – These are meetings with the Judge to see if a settlement can be reached, and to decide which issues should be tried.
- Opening statements – Each party’s lawyer will present an opening statement explaining the facts of the case.
- Presentation of evidence – The attorneys will be given the chance to present evidence to support their claims. Evidence in a divorce case varies significantly based on the circumstances of the divorce and the disputed issues. The parties’ respective attorneys may present financial documents, property appraisals, photographs, recordings, police reports, child-related information, and more. The attorneys may also call witnesses to the stand. Each spouse may be questioned or “examined” and cross-examined by the attorneys. Expert witnesses such as psychologists, child specialists, accountants, or financial professionals may also be questioned.
- Closing arguments – The attorneys will present their respective closing arguments summarizing the evidence presented during the trial.
- Judge’s decision – After both sides have finished presenting their case, the Judge will make a final ruling on all of the issues to be decided in the trial.
Contact our Palatine Divorce Lawyer
Although most divorce cases reach a settlement before trial, it is important to be prepared for the possibility of a trial. This starts with hiring a divorce lawyer with the legal knowledge and experience needed to present a robust case.
Arlington Heights divorce attorney Nicholas W. Richardson is equipped to handle complex divorce issues including high net-worth divorce, spousal maintenance, property division, child custody, and more. If you are getting divorced, call Law Office of Nicholas W. Richardson, P.C. at 847.873.6741 for a free consultation.