Most clients would prefer to spend as much time out of court as possible. Less court involvement usually equates to saving time and money all around. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) promotes parties to settle their disputes by way of agreement. Pursuant to Section 502 of the IMDMA (750 ILCS 5/502), parties may enter into agreements to resolve issues pertaining to the dissolution of their marriage. A Marital Settlement Agreement is a document that allows just that. Parties can enter into an agreement that contains provisions for disposition of property, maintenance, child support, allocation of parental responsibilities for decision-making and parenting time, etc. Think of it like a contract. It is best to have it in writing. The Court will incorporate the Marital Settlement Agreement into the Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage as long as the Court does not find the Marital Settlement Agreement to be unconscionable.
Many cases begin as contested matters but are later settled by agreement. Settlements can be reached at any stage of litigation. Some parties are able to resolve their differences after an initial mediation session. Some parties decide to go settle after hearing their Judge’s pre-trial recommendation and other parties decide to take their issues all the way to a trial. There certainly are cases that do need to be litigated but there are also a lot of cases that can be settled with little to no litigation at all.
We have many clients that come to us for uncontested divorces. These are people who are in agreement not only to the divorce itself but also regarding the actual terms of their settlement. In these types of cases the parties usually only have to appear in court on one occasion. It is possible to save a lot of time and money if you and your spouse are able to communicate effectively to resolve your issues by way of a Marital Settlement Agreement but remember that it is always recommended that you have an experienced attorney representing you at all stages of the dissolution process, whether the matter is contested or not.