Uncontested Divorce Attorney
Often times our law office is contacted by someone who wants an “uncontested divorce”. Unfortunately, most people do not know what an uncontested divorce is or under what conditions it is applicable.
An uncontested divorce is more than a situation where both parties agree to divorce each other.
“Uncontested Divorce” means that you and your spouse have previously discussed and agreed upon every aspect of the case.
In an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse must have agreed to grounds for divorce, property settlement, debt division, child custody , child support, visitation schedule, and maintenance . If you or your spouse disagrees about any of these aspects, your divorce is considered “contested”.
The legal process is complicated. But if you and your spouse are able to communicate with each other and work together toward a reasonable solution as to all issues that Illinois law requires the parties to address in a divorce, you may be able to obtain an uncontested divorce. Doing so may help you save time and money.
A LAWYER’S ROLE IN AN UNCONTESTED DIVORCE
An attorney can be a very valuable asset in an uncontested divorce.
- The lawyer will prepare all of the legal documents for you.
- In court, the lawyer will guide you through the process to reach a Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage.
- The attorney will review your agreement, ensuring that nothing important is left out.
- You can ask the lawyer questions and have a better understanding of your agreement.
JOINT SIMPLIFIED PETITION FOR DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE
Illinois has an expedited form of uncontested divorce that you may use should you qualify for it. Pursuant to 750 Illinois Compiled Statutes 5/452, you may do a “joint simplified dissolution,” if you and your spouse are able to reach a complete agreement and you qualify under the law. You qualify for a joint simplified dissolution if:
- You have been married for eight years or less.
- You and your spouse will fill out all the forms together.
- You and your spouse go to court together to enter the Judgment for Dissolution.
- You and your spouse do not have any children together
- You and your wife are not pregnant.
- You and your spouse are living separate apart and have done so for at least six months.
- You and your spouse do not own a house or other land.
- You have less than $10,000 in joint marital property
- Each of you earn less than $20,000 in individual gross income,
- And, together, as a couple, you do not earn more than $35,000 in gross income.
- You and your spouse are waiving maintenance, formerly known as alimony.
- Either you or your spouse has lived in Illinois for at least 90 days before you file for divorce.
- You and your spouse agree that irreconcilable differences have caused an irretrievable breakdown of your marriage.
You can obtain a joint simplified dissolution of marriage if all of the above statements are true. If you have a house or children, you must file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in the regular way. But even then, if you are able to agree on all the issues, your case will be more likely to be completed sooner than contested divorces.
You will begin by locating the correct circuit court to proceed with your divorce. In Illinois, there are 24 circuit courts. You must file in the circuit court area in which you or your spouse lives. If you live in DuPage County, the proper circuit court in which to file is the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit Court located in Wheaton, Illinois. Cook County is a bit more complicated because the Circuit Court of Cook County is divided up into 6 districts. If you or your spouse live in suburban Cook County, you have two options. You may file in the First District in downtown Chicago or you may file in the suburban district in which you live. Either one is appropriate. If you or your spouse live in the City of Chicago, you may file in the First District only.
To start the divorce, the first thing you must do is complete the correct forms. Illinois divorce forms vary from courthouse to courthouse. However, most Clerks of the Circuit Courts place their joint simplified divorce forms on their websites.
Once you have located and obtained the correct forms, complete them. Take your time and work carefully. Type the forms or print neatly in black ink. Rushing through the papers will result in mistakes that could delay your divorce. Clerks in the courthouses cannot give you legal advice. If you have questions about how to complete the forms, you should contact a family law attorney to help you.
Generally speaking, you and your spouse will have to work together to prepare a joint petition, an Affidavit waiving the two year separation requirement and stipulating that you have been living separate and apart for at least six months, a Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage, and a Certificate of Dissolution form. Bring the completed forms to the proper courthouse for filing. The clerk will assign a case number and charge you a filing fee. Filing fees differ by courthouse, so it is best to call ahead to determine how much money to bring and the acceptable forms of payment.
After you file the papers, the clerk will send you to see the Judge who has been assigned to your case. Both you and your spouse must be present at this time in court. The Judge will ask you questions, and you will give testimony regarding your marriage, assets, debts, income and the like. This is called a prove-up hearing. The prove-up hearings usually last about 15 minutes. If the terms of your settlement agreement are fair and reasonable and they comply with Illinois law, the judge will sign the Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage. It is at this time that your divorce is final.