Top 5 Need to Know: Uncontested divorce

As an uncontested divorce lawyer in Illinois, I know people always have questions about how to start an uncontested divorce. They know it is the fast and easy way to get divorced, and people are often interested in using a lawyer for a flat fee. Here are the Top 5 things you need to know about starting a divorce in Illinois.

If you want to start an uncontested divorce in Illinois, you probably have questions similar to everyone else. Therefor, I’ve put together the Top 5 things you should know about getting started.

#1: Total Agreement is necessary

For an uncontested divorce in Illinois, you must agree on all aspects of the divorce. That means all money issues, all kid issues – everything.

The fact is that fighting about just one small thing could cost you tens of thousands of dollars, and take more than a year. Do you want to do that? Probably not.

With the help of an uncontested divorce lawyer, you can make sure you cover all the issues necessary. That will help your divorce be fast, and affordable.

#2: Only one person has to be a resident of Illinois

Only one person has to be a resident of Illinois, and that one person has to have been a resident for at least 90 days before filing a divorce case.

The person filing the case is called the “petitioner,” and the other person is called the “respondent.” So either the petition or the respondent can be a resident of Illinois.

For example, the petition who files the case might live in New York, and the respondent might lie in Illinois. That’s not a problem.

There are a couple little tings to know about being considered a resident of Illinois:

  1. A temporary absence from Illinois does not mean you are no longer a resident. For example, if you have lived in Illinois for years, then you have to work in Los Angeles for a temporary, 6-month period, you are still considered a resident of Illinois if you plan to come back.
  2. Members of the armed forces are considered residence if Illinois is their state of residence from before they are in the military, or if they are based in Illinois (such as at Great Lakes Naval Base).

#3: The other person doesn’t need to be “served”

People who want a divorce but still get along with their spouses often want to make sure a divorce is amicable. That makes sense.

And people often associated getting “served” with a scary process where a guy jumps out of nowhere and shoves “divorce papers” in someone’s face.

While getting served is not really that scary, what you should know is that getting served by a “process server” is not necessary in an uncontested divorce in Illinois.

Because the respondent (the person who did not file case) is participating by cooperation, the respondent can simply sign a document called an “appearance” that means it is not necessary for that person to get served the other way.

This is just one example of how an Illinois uncontested divorce is easier due to it being by agreement.

#4: Both spouses don’t need a lawyer, and they CANNOT use the same lawyer

This is kind of a 2-in-1 point because they are so related.

So many people ask me if both spouses are required to get a lawyer. No.

In fact, you can get divorced without a lawyer. However, you should know that getting divorced doesn’t mean you won’t have a lot of problems after the divorce. The main reasons to use an Illinois uncontested divorce lawyer is to make sure your divorce is done the right way, and to take the reasonable efforts to protect yourself. Most people who are not lawyers have not written contracts to divide real estate, assets and debts – and that’s what needs to be done to get divorced in Illinois. Judge’s don’t care if your divorce makes sense for you, or not – in fact, the standards for a judge to allow a divorce to go through are very low. It’s nothing against judges, but people getting divorced are adults. If you wanted to enter into an agreement that will screw you over, you likely will be allowed to do that.

So obviously, it is better to get a lawyer than to do it yourself, and it is also better to get a lawyer then it is to use one of those questionable “divorce paper” websites that gives all sorts of guarantees; see this article about that.

It is important to keep in mind that the same lawyer cannot represent both spouses in a divorce in Illinois. While an uncontested divorce in Illinois is supposed to be one that is by agreement, legal advice is still involved. And further, if any disagreement arises, there would be a conflict of interest in that one lawyer would be representing two people fighting each other – that just doesn’t work.

I’ve heard of scumbag lawyers who get hired by one person and make it a practice to try to trick the spouse into thinking the lawyer represents the spouse as well. That’s a really bad idea.

#5 There is no waiting period for an uncontested divorce in Illinois

If you want to start a divorce in Illinois, you might be in a hurry. And although you know an uncontested divorce in Illinois is supposed to be fast and affordable, you might be worried about the dreaded “6 month waiting period.”

Well, I have good news for you. There is no waiting period for an uncontested divorce in Illinois.

There used to be one, but now, when people are in agreement, the law doesn’t require a waiting period. Some judge’s still have it stuck in there mind that a waiting period exists, but they are wrong.

You should also know something else about waiting periods.

Even back when a 6-month waiting period was required, it wasn’t what people thought. For example, people did not have to actually live in separate residences for 6 months prior to getting divorced. They could, in fact, live in the same residence, just as roommates, instead of living as a married couple (use your imagination).

Long story short, don’t stress about the dreaded 6 month waiting period.