According to most estimates, somewhere between 90 and 95 percent of all divorces are negotiated outside of the courtroom. The remaining percent, as you might expect, are litigated often causing a high degree of stress and emotion for all involved parties. Of course, even a negotiated divorce can have its challenges, as reaching an agreement is not always easier, especially in contentious situations. The law regarding divorce in Illinois, however, recognizes the importance of amicable settlements and provides a number of guidelines regarding their approval and enforceability.
What Can You Negotiate?
Although separate sections of the law have been enacted to address the various considerations in a divorce, you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse are permitted to come to your own agreement on virtually every issue. You can decide for yourselves how you will divide your property, whether maintenance is to be paid, and even child custody, support, and parenting time arrangements.
On issues of everything except child-related matters, as long as your agreement is reasonably fair, the court is required to approve your agreement and enter them into the divorce judgment. To protect the best interests of your child, the court must review the child-related concerns a little more closely, and may make amendments to your agreement before accepting them as part of the judgment.
Once your agreement has been submitted to the court and entered as part of the divorce judgment, the terms carry the legal weight of any other court-issued directive. Despite being a negotiated settlement, its approval by the court makes it court order, and failure to comply with its terms could result in serious penalties and sanctions, including being found in contempt of court.
Once a property division agreement has been reached and entered, it cannot be modified. This is normally true for any divorce, negotiated or litigated. Child support and custody, on the other hand, are always able to be modified for showing of good cause or a significant change in circumstances. The law recognizes that family situations are constantly evolving and that an existing order or agreement can quickly become obsolete. Spousal maintenance, finally, may be modified as long as your agreement does not specifically prohibit modification. Similar to child matters, a spousal support agreement may be amended if there is a substantial change in circumstances.
If you are considering a divorce in Illinois, an experienced Orland Park family law attorney can offer you the guidance you need in developing a divorce agreement. Contact Kezy & Associates today for your free consultation at one of our three convenient office locations. Call 708-518-8200 to schedule an appointment.