FAQ: Final Court Date for Uncontested Divorce

As an Illinois uncontested divorce lawyer, I know people often have questions about what happens in court. For most uncontested divorces, there is only one court date (the “prove up”). In this article I address frequently asked questions about the final court date for an uncontested divorce in Illinois. Contact us to start your uncontested divorce, if you’d like.

Before we get started, if you want an overview of uncontested divorce in Illinois, you should check out this FAQ on uncontested divorce in Illinois.

#1: In an uncontested divorce, what is the final court date called?

The final court date in an Illinois uncontested divorce is called a “prove up.” It basically means you are “proving up,” or putting on the record the terms of your agreement with your spouse. One great thing about an uncontested divorce is that usually the FINAL court date is your ONLY court date. The possibility of only one court appearance is one reason we offer a flat fee for an uncontested divorce in Illinois.

#2: Who must to attend the prove up?

There are two parties in a divorce. The person filing is the “Petitioner,” and the other person is the “Respondent.”

If a prove up is scheduled, most judges require the Petitioner to attend the prove up because it is the Petitioner that is moving the case forward.

The Respondent is always welcome to come to the prove up. But technically speaking, absent an order from a judge, the Respondent need not appear if the Respondent has signed all settlement agreements with a notarized signature. However, there is a slim chance that the judge will require the Respondent to appear – but that usually in rare cases where there is something very unique about the parties’ settlement agreement. That being said, to play it safe, the Respondent can simply show up – just to be on the safe side.

All that being said, the Respondent shows up to only around 25% of the uncontested divorces I handle, and most of the time they aren’t even necessary.

On important thing to know is that if the Respondent didn’t get settlement agreement signatures notarized, then he or she MUST appear in court. That way the judge knows – absent a notarization – that the Respondent actually signed the settlement agreements.

#3: Is court in person, or on Zoom?

Zoom has been a great gift to lawyers and litigants who have simple and quick matters before the court.

Many courts will handle an uncontested divorce in Illinois with Zoom, or some other video conferencing. So you might not have to physically come to court.

Your uncontested divorce lawyer should let you know if your prove up will be on Zoom, or physically in court. Additionally, you should pay attention to any “Notice of Prove Up” and any court order setting a prove up, because those documents would likely tell you not only if the prove up will be on Zoom, but should also give you the details you need to properly log on.

If you don’t know if your uncontested divorce prove up date is on Zoom on in person, you should probably ask your uncontested divorce lawyer.

#4: What do I do when I get to court?

Sometimes when you get to court there you have to wait – like the DMV.

What happens in court is pretty much the same whether the prove up is remotely, on Zoom, or in person. Once your case is called, you will be sworn in, then the uncontested divorce lawyer will ask questions. The lawyer will cover basic facts about you and your spouse, when you were married, and certain main points of your settlement terms.

The questions are normally asked in the form of leading questions, allowing you to simply state “correct.” See some examples below:

Examples of basic questions:

  1. Lawyer: You were married on January 1, 2020?
  2. You: Correct.
  3. Lawyer: You have been living in Illinois for at least 90 days prior to the filing of your petition for dissolution?
  4. You: Correct.
  5. Lawyer: Your marriage suffered irreconcilable differences, you made efforts to reconcile, and those efforts failed?
  6. You: Correct.

Examples of questions about your settlement terms:

  1. Lawyer: You executed this MSA with your spouse to resolve all the financial aspects of your divorce?
  2. You: Correct.
  3. Lawyer: You and your spouse agreed to mutually waive the right to receive spousal maintenance, formerly known as alimony, and you understand that you can never come back to this court or any other court and ask for maintenance?
  4. You: Correct.
  5. Lawyer: There is a house at 123 Main Street presently titled in both your names, the house is awarded to you, your spouse moved out, and your spouse will quit claim the house to you thereby taking his name off the title?
  6. You: Correct.

If you have kids, the uncontested divorce lawyer will also go over the main points in the Judgment for Allocation of Parenting Responsibilities (that’s what people call the “parenting agreement”).

The judge can ask questions of the parties, or the lawyer. Judges expect truthful answers, but generally it is okay to give a very short answer. It’s not a big deal, so don’t stress.

#5: When will I be divorced?

You will be divorced after the prove up.

However, you may not receive the proof of your divorce until a couple days later. It takes some time for the court to process the necessary documents.

#6: What documents will I get showing I’m divorced?

Your settlement agreements should contain all the terms of your divorce. But it is the “Judgment for Dissolution,” aka “divorce decree,” which is actually the document that grants the divorce; it is essentially a court order. The Judgment for Dissolution will have some standard language in it, and state that the terms of the divorce are in the settlement agreements.

The Judgment for Dissolution might have a provision allowing a name change back to a pre-marital name. The person wanting a name change will need a “certified” copy of the Judgment for Dissolution, then will need to take that to the Social Security Administration office (where name changes are handled).

The copy of the judgement sent by your lawyer will likely not be certified. To get a certified copy, you will need to visit the clerk of court in whatever county you were divorced, and request a certified copy. Depending upon the printing and certification fees in the particular court, a certified copy might cost you around twenty dollars.

#7: Is a prove up always necessary?

At present, DuPage County sometimes allows people to get divorced without a prove up court date. For that, your uncontested divorce lawyer must follow special procedures, and if the judge approves, your uncontested divorce might be finalized without a prove up court appearance.

#8: Am I guaranteed a maximum of one court date for an uncontested divorce in Illinois?

As an uncontested divorce lawyer in Illinois, I have handled hundreds of uncontested divorces in many counties in Illinois, including Cook, Champaign, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, Sangamon and Will. Out of the hundreds of uncontested divorces I’ve handled, literally at least 99% of them have required only one court date.

However, there is a very small chance that your uncontested divorce could require more than one court date. Some counties require at least two court dates, the first one just being for a lawyer to get a prove up date (with the prove up being the second court date). Additionally, people with very unique circumstances sometimes have settlement agreements with which a judge is uncomfortable, and the judge asks people to come back to court again after making some adjustments (but again, that is VERY rare).

When I handled a flat fee uncontested divorce, I can advise my clients if they want to do something that could cause the divorce to require more than one court date.

#9: What if I filed an uncontested divorce myself, but need a lawyer to finalize the case?

People often try to handle a divorce on their own, without a lawyer. Then, they run into problems.

For example, they go to court, and a judge tells them they don’t have all the required documents. Or, the judge reviews the marital settlement agreement (MSA), and tells the people that the agreement is unacceptable.

When that happens, people often reach out to an Illinois uncontested divorce lawyer to try to get help in finalizing the case.

When a person calls me with this type of situation, I can usually predict what is going to happen. Often, the person might think pretty much all the work is done, and that a lawyer is only needed to show up in court. However, that is never the case.

When I look into what the person has done on their own case, I usually see many problems. For example, the marital settlement agreement (MSA) is usually trash because it was drafted with one of those scammy divorce papers websites. All those websites do is fill out a form using your input.

Long story short, when people file their own cases, then screw them up, it requires me to do almost the same amount of work on their case as it would if I handled the entire case from the beginning.