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What Are the Options for Resolving Disputes in a Contested Divorce?

 Posted on August 27, 2021 in Divorce

Elmhurst family law attorney for Child Tax Credit in DivorceA divorce will involve many different issues that will need to be addressed before a couple’s marriage can be legally dissolved. In some cases, couples will be looking to pursue an uncontested divorce in which they will resolve these issues outside of court, create a divorce settlement that fully details the decisions made, and complete their divorce by attending a “prove-up” hearing. However, it is likely that couples will encounter disagreements about some of these issues, and they may struggle to resolve these disputes on their own. In a contested divorce case, a person will want to understand their options for addressing these issues.

At Weiss-Kunz & Oliver, LLC, we know the difficulties that divorcing spouses can encounter as they determine how to proceed with ending their marriage. We are dedicated to helping our clients find effective solutions that will allow them to complete the divorce process as efficiently as possible and move forward with their lives. For those who have encountered disputes that seem difficult to resolve, we work to help them determine the best course of action. We make sure our clients know their options at all times, and we provide strong legal representation to ensure that their rights and interests will be protected.

Common Disputes in Divorce Cases

A divorcing couple may agree on certain issues, or they may be at odds as they address the various aspects of their marriage that will need to be resolved before the divorce process can be completed. Disputes may arise as couples address issues such as:

  • Property division - Determining how to divide marital assets and debts between spouses can be a complex process, especially in high net worth divorce cases. Each spouse may believe that they should be able to maintain ownership of certain property, and the spouses’ emotional attachments to some items may lead to contentious arguments. A couple may need to determine how to handle ownership of complex assets such as real estate, family businesses or professional practices, trusts and estates, or retirement accounts, pensions, and SEPs. Couples may encounter disputes over these types of assets if they have conflicting expectations about how ownership of a home or business will be handled, and spouses will also be looking to make sure they will have the financial resources they need once their divorce is complete.

  • Child issues - Divorcing parents may encounter disputes as they address multiple issues related to their children. Even if parents agree that they will share in the allocation of parental responsibilities (also known as legal custody), they may not be on the same page about the parameters of these responsibilities or how they will make important decisions in their children’s lives. A couple may also encounter disputes about how parenting time will be divided. Each parent may have different expectations about where their children will live most of the time, and they may disagree on issues such as transportation arrangements for children, rules that will be followed at each parent’s home, and appropriate methods of communication between parents and children.

  • Spousal support/maintenance - One spouse may believe that they should receive financial support that will ensure that they can maintain their standard of living following their divorce. However, the other spouse may be concerned about how the requirement to pay support would affect their ability to provide for their own needs. In addition to disagreeing over whether spousal maintenance is appropriate, spouses may encounter disputes over the amount of support that should be paid and how long these payments will last.

There are some cases where spouses may be able to negotiate with each other to resolve these and other disputes on their own or with the help of their respective attorneys. However, other methods of dispute resolution can be helpful, ensuring that spouses will be able to address all of their issues properly as they work to complete the divorce process.

Using Mediation to Reach a Divorce Settlement

Spouses can often benefit by using mediation to address and resolve disputes as they negotiate a divorce settlement. During the mediation process, a couple will work together with the assistance of a mediator to reach agreements on the outstanding issues in their divorce. While a divorce mediator may be an attorney or a person with legal training, they will not represent either spouse. Instead, the mediator is a neutral third party who will provide guidance and offer advice on possible compromises.

Mediation can be a good solution for spouses who are willing to work together to find solutions they can both agree on. However, both parties will need to approach the mediation process in the spirit of cooperation. If a couple is still immersed in emotional disputes over why their marriage is ending, or if one or both spouses are unwilling to compromise, mediation may not be helpful. In these cases, mediation sessions may devolve into heated, unproductive arguments instead of cooperative discussions where a couple works to reach mutually beneficial solutions. 

If a couple needs to address complex financial issues during their divorce, mediation may not be the best way to handle these matters. This is especially true if one spouse was primarily responsible for handling the family’s finances, if a spouse is a business owner, or if a couple owns complex investments or financial assets. If one spouse does not have a complete understanding of the family’s assets and finances, they may not have the information they need to negotiate a fair property settlement, even with the assistance of a mediator.

Since spouses need to approach the mediation process on an equal footing, there may be some other situations where mediation may not be appropriate. In cases where one spouse has been the victim of abusive or controlling behavior by the other spouse, a person may feel that they will be unable to have productive discussions. If a spouse is worried that their former partner will attempt to intimidate them or coerce them into making agreements that are not in their best interests, mediation may not be the best way to resolve disputes, and they may need to find other approaches for addressing their legal issues as they dissolve their marriage.

Resolving Issues Through a Collaborative Divorce

For couples who need to address complex legal and financial issues or who wish to ensure that they will have representation from an attorney as they negotiate a divorce settlement, collaborative divorce can be a good solution. In these cases, the spouses will work together with their respective attorneys to address and resolve all of the outstanding issues in their divorce. This may be done through a series of meetings between the parties or through ongoing communications in which the spouses share information with each other and work to create a final settlement agreement.

As with mediation, collaborative divorce can be a good solution for couples who are willing to cooperate to find solutions that will benefit them both. To ensure that spouses and their attorneys will be able to cooperate, they will sign an agreement stating that they will be open and honest with each other and provide any information requested. This agreement will also state that if the couple is unable to reach a settlement, requiring litigation to resolve any outstanding issues, their attorneys will withdraw from the case. This can help ensure that the attorneys will help the spouses work toward cooperative solutions rather than taking an adversarial approach to disputes.

During a collaborative divorce, the parties can also work with other experts to determine the best ways to resolve their issues. Financial experts such as accountants or appraisers can ensure that spouses will have a complete understanding of the assets they own and other financial issues that affect them. This will allow the spouses to reach a property settlement that protects the interests of both parties and provides them with the financial resources they need. Parents may also work with family counselors or child custody evaluators to determine the best ways to address child-related issues. These experts can help them create child custody agreements that will protect their children’s best interests and ensure that both parents can maintain close relationships with their children.

Collaborative divorce requires spouses to be willing to cooperate and compromise, and they can work together with their attorneys to create a divorce settlement that is beneficial for both parties. Since the parties will be working closely with their attorneys, they can rest assured that they will be able to address legal issues correctly and that they will have someone who can advocate for their interests. However, if either party is unwilling to compromise, collaborative divorce may not be the best solution, and it may lead to a longer and more drawn-out divorce process that will still require litigation to resolve certain issues.

Divorce Trials and Litigation

If a couple is unable to resolve some or all of the issues in their divorce, a divorce trial may need to be held. Litigation is often the last resort since a divorce trial can be very expensive and lengthy. However, a trial may be necessary if the spouses reach an impasse in their negotiations and cannot agree on how certain matters should be resolved. Litigation may also be the only way to resolve cases involving contentious disputes or situations where one party is unwilling to compromise.

A divorce trial will usually involve extensive preparation. The parties will participate in discovery, in which they will gather relevant information about their marriage and the issues that will need to be addressed and resolved. The spouses may request information from each other by making requests for documents or requests to admit certain facts. In some cases, spouses may participate in depositions, in which they will answer questions under oath, or subpoenas may be used to obtain information from other parties, such as financial institutions.

Once the parties are fully prepared for litigation, a pre-trial conference will be scheduled with the judge in their case. At this conference, the attorneys will review the outstanding issues that need to be resolved, and the judge may provide recommendations on how these matters may be resolved, while also indicating how they may rule on certain issues. This will help the parties determine whether they may be able to reach a settlement before going ahead with the trial.

During a divorce trial, each party’s attorney will present evidence and make arguments. Witnesses may be called to provide testimony, and these witnesses may include the spouses, other family members, financial experts, child custody evaluators, or anyone else who can provide relevant information about the case. After considering the information presented during the trial, the judge will make final decisions about how to resolve all outstanding issues, and they will issue a divorce judgment.

Contact Our DuPage County Divorce Lawyers

During your divorce, the lawyers at Weiss-Kunz & Oliver, LLC can help you determine the best options for addressing your issues and resolving any disputes that you may encounter. We will advise you on whether mediation or collaborative divorce may allow you to reach a divorce settlement, or we can help you take the proper steps to prepare for a divorce trial. Contact our Elmhurst divorce attorneys today at 312-605-4041 to get the legal help you need.






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