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Going through a divorce is hard enough without having to also go toe to toe with your soon-to-be ex. Fortunately, getting involved in an all-out war with a future ex is not always necessary during a marital breakup.

Although trials might look captivating on television, settling a divorce outside of court is oftentimes the better avenue in real life. Here is a look at how settlement agreements reached outside of court receive court approval in Illinois.

What can you do outside of court to reach a settlement agreement?

Most spouses going through divorce do not need to proceed to trial thanks to effective processes such as informal negotiations or divorce mediation. During these alternatives to traditional divorce litigation, you and your future ex-spouse can negotiate and resolve all divorce-related issues and then finalize your decisions in a written agreement.

Your agreement may detail how you and your spouse will split up your marital property, such as real estate, cars, funds in the bank or even a 401(k). At the same time, the agreement may spell out who will pay alimony to the other spouse, and how much. If you have children, you can also come up with a parenting plan that details who will have custody of the children and how visitation will be handled.

What happens after you have reached a divorce agreement?

After you and your future ex-spouse have arrived at a mutually satisfactory agreement, you will need to present it to a judge for approval. During an informal hearing, the judge will likely ask you some basic questions and whether both of you understand the terms of the agreement and voluntarily signed it. If the judge is happy with the agreement and feels that you and the other party negotiated it in a fair manner, it will most likely receive the court’s approval.

Meanwhile, if it appears that the agreement’s terms blatantly favor you or the other party, your agreement might not be approved. In this situation, if you still cannot reach an agreement outside of court that the judge deems to be fair, you have no choice but to go to trial, where the court will ultimately determine for you how to resolve your divorce issues. Unfortunately, the judge’s final decisions may not necessarily be in alignment with your expectations and wishes.