If you live in the Bloomington, IL, area and are preparing to divorce, it’s essential to understand the divorce process and what you can expect as your case unfolds. Illinois has had one of the lowest divorce rates in the United States for several years, with only about 7% of marriages ending in divorce, but it also has one of the lowest marriage rates overall. This indicates that the lower-than-average divorce rate does not necessarily mean the chances of a couple divorcing are significantly lower in Illinois. No matter what reasons you may have for ending your marriage in Bloomington, IL, you should understand the value of legal representation and what you can expect from an experienced family law attorney.

What Is the Best Approach to Divorce in Bloomington?

Every marriage is unique; therefore, every divorce process will have unique characteristics. There is no single formula for the “best” approach to divorce due to the innumerable factors that can come into play in any divorce case. If you are wondering what the best way to handle your situation could be, assess the reason behind your divorce. If you have experienced domestic violence, it’s crucial to secure legal representation and begin the process of ending your marriage as quickly as possible to prevent further abuse. Illinois has a relatively average domestic violence rate, but it is slightly elevated over national averages. If you are divorcing for less severe reasons such as irreconcilable differences, it is still crucial to secure legal representation from a Bloomington divorce attorney you can trust.

A good attorney will help their client understand all options for navigating the divorce process. For example, many couples choose alternative dispute resolution to avoid the stress, expense, and time required for divorce litigation. In addition, most family law attorneys encourage their clients to take full advantage of the benefits divorce mediation can offer whenever possible, effectively minimizing the amount of time they must spend in court to finalize their divorces.

How Does Mediation Work?

Think of divorce mediation as the settlement process for a divorce. Instead of proceeding directly to court to have a judge rule on the various elements of your case, you and your spouse can privately negotiate the terms of your divorce under the guidance of an experienced mediator. The only requirement for mediation is that both spouses must be willing to try the process. If either spouse is completely unwilling to engage in mediation or demands a trial, the couple will need to litigate their divorce. It’s vital for divorcing spouses to remember that while their situations may involve difficult emotional issues and personal tension, it is never worth sacrificing your own interests simply to have your day in court.

While some people may assume that taking their divorces to trial will ensure the judge sees things their way, the reality is typically quite the opposite. When you mediate your divorce, you have much more control over the outcome. If you litigate, the judge has the final say on every aspect of your divorce, and they may perceive things very differently from you. When you and your spouse are willing to negotiate in mediation, the mediator will guide your discussions and help you draft your divorce resolution as you work through all the issues your divorce entails.

In most cases, a divorcing couple will complete divorce mediation in a fraction of the time required for litigation, reaching more personally acceptable results and incurring lower legal fees. However, some issues cannot be resolved in private mediation. It’s also possible for negotiations concerning certain aspects of a divorce to fail. Whether you need to litigate the aspects of your divorce that you cannot privately settle, or you have reached an impasse in your negotiations, you will ultimately need to proceed to litigation for some measure of your divorce process.

Why Might Litigation Be Necessary?

Even if you and your spouse successfully mediate every issue involved in your divorce, you may still need to undergo some measure of litigation, especially if you have children together. The Illinois family court has a legal duty to verify all child custody and child support determinations resulting from divorce. If you and your spouse have children and your divorce process involves a custody determination, you cannot settle this issue in mediation. Instead, you will need to go to court to have a Bloomington, IL, family court judge review your proposed parenting plan and deliver a custody ruling.

Beyond approval of your custody and support terms for your children, it may also be necessary to undergo divorce litigation if you and your spouse cannot settle every issue during the mediation process. For example, you could successfully negotiate property division but reach an impasse on alimony or spousal support. If there are any lingering issues that you cannot resolve during mediation, you must go to family court to have a judge rule on these issues. However, taking advantage of divorce mediation to the fullest extent possible can allow you to minimize the time you must spend in litigation.

What to Expect From Your Bloomington Divorce Attorney

It’s vital to have dependable legal counsel on your side as you begin the divorce process, regardless of whether you plan to explore alternative dispute resolution or not. Your attorney can help you determine whether mediation is a possibility for your situation and guide you through the process. In addition, if you must litigate your divorce case to any extent, you will need legal representation to prepare you for each phase of litigation and provide ongoing legal counsel through each session in the courtroom.

Ultimately, divorce is never easy, and even if your divorce seems straightforward at first, you could easily encounter many complicated variables you may not know how to address. Working with an experienced Bloomington divorce lawyer is the best way to approach this type of situation. If you are unsure what approach would best suit your interests for your impending divorce, contact an experienced Bloomington, IL, divorce attorney today and schedule a consultation.