The *REAL* cost of uncontested divorce

So you want your Illinois divorce to be fast and affordable? If so, then we’ve established that you are, in fact, a sane individual. Congratulations. But have you thought about the REAL cost of an uncontested divorce? I’m an Illinois divorce lawyer, and I have some news for you.

Maybe you’ve heard that an uncontested divorce in Illinois is the fastest and most affordable way to get divorced. If, so, then you might want to get started with the process. When an Illinois divorce is by agreement, a divorce lawyer can represent you for a flat fee.

Even though you might understand the basic idea of an uncontested divorce, you can’t truly appreciate it until you really understand the TRUE cost of an uncontested divorce in Illinois.

Here’s the *REAL* cost of an uncontested divorce in Illinois. . .

But why would an uncontested divorce in Illinois cost so little?

This might seem a little confusing. I said that a lawyer can represent you for a flat fee, then I said the real cost of an uncontested divorce in Illinois is $0.

What’s up?

Well, to truly understand cost, one must no only consider the outgoing cash flows (such as a flat fee for a lawyer), but also must consider the cost of the alternative. That is, fighting in court.

So if I had to come up with a formula to represented the cost of a divorce by agreement, it might be something like this: A-B=C, where A = a flat fee for a case by agreement, B = the cost of fighting in court, and C = the *REAL* cost of an uncontested divorce in Illinois.

Fighting in court can get very expensive

Here are some low estimates for costs associated with fighting in court.

  • $2,000+ for initial financial discovery. When a divorce is contested, people have to exchange financial documents. Just the first stage of this process could cost in excess of $2,000.
  • $3,000+ for filing and arguing a motion. Motions are documents used to ask the court to order something before a divorce is finalized. For example, a motion for child support, a motion to sell a house, etc. If you want to file a motion, then you will probably have to pay a lawyer to gather evidence for the motion, write the motion, review the other side’s response to the motion, and argue the motion in court. The cost can become much more than $2,000 depending on a variety of factors that are way beyond the scope of this article. In many contested cases, people have to file 3 or more motions. . . that’s at least $9,000.
  • $6,000+ for a guardian ad litem, or child representative. If people fight about kids as part of a divorce, the court might appoint a guardian ad litem (a person who acts as a witness for the child), or a child representative (a lawyer for the child). This person, who is always a lawyer, bills like a lawyer, and that can be expensive.
  • $10,000+ for a trial. Even the smallest trial is a lot of work. Some trials can cost several multiples of $10,000. There is more work than you might think, and certain steps are required that surprise most people.

A contested case can easily cost more than $10,000

You can easily see from the above examples how a case can easily cost more than $10,000. By the time you get a case started, go through initial financial discovery, and maybe file and respond to a few motions, you could be looking at $15,000, or more. It depends on the case. But I think you get the point – fighting in court is not cheap.

How about a divorce trial?

In truth, most cases don’t go to trial. People sometimes fight a while, do some bluffing, get mad, investigate the other person, etc. Sometimes cases settle early on, sometimes – no kidding – the very day of trial.

I represent people for a flat fee for an uncontested divorce in Illinois. But I’m also a trial lawyer, and represent people in contested cases. The lowest cost I’ve had for taking a case to trial is $20,000.

Here’s the bottom line about the *REAL* cost of an uncontested divorce

When compared to the cost of fighting in court, an uncontested divorce in Illinois is practically free. Instead of paying a lawyer tens of thousands of dollars to fight for a predictable results, you can pay one affordable flat fee and get divorced by agreement. Check out this article about getting started with an uncontested divorce in Illinois.