If you want a divorce in Illinois but want to spend as little on it as possible, then you’re not a lone. But there any many ways to get divorce. You could hire a divorce lawyer who is paid by the hour, you could get an uncontested divorce with a lawyer for a flat fee, you could represent yourself, and you could use a so-called “divorce website” that prepares documents for you.
As a uncontested divorce lawyer in Illinois, I represent peopled in uncontested divorce in the counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will. And as a result, I’m always talking to people about the options out there – so I write this FAQ on affordable uncontested divorce options in Illinois.
What is the cheapest way to get divorced?
If you want the absolute cheapest divorce possible, you can do it yourself. It is your right to do so. But is it the best choice? Personally, I don’t think so. I don’t care if you hire myself or another lawyer. But please, don’t screw up your own divorce. Consider the following:
- Time off work: You will need to take time of work. You will likely go to court and request various documents, and then go back to file. When you file, there is a good chance you won’t file everything that’s needed. Then you will show up to court on a day you think is the day your divorce will be finalized. You’ll find out that the judge won’t finalize the divorce because you have not met all the necessary requirements. That’s more time off work, for nothing, and that has a cost.
- Cost: What some people don’t realize is that even if they handle a divorce themselves, or “pro se,” there are other costs. For example, court costs. In Cook County and DuPage county, court costs are more than $500 for both spouses combined.
- Frustration: Divorce is not as simple as many people think, and therefore, people who draft their own legal documents often make mistakes. You will likely be very frustrated trying to determine what you need to file with the court.
- Substantive problems: If you draft your own marital settlement agreement, you will likely have problems. For example, people think that just because only one person’s name is on a bank account, that bank account belongs to only one person. But that’s not necessarily true. If the money in the account was acquired during that marriage and was not a gift, then that bank account is the property of both married people (called “marital property”).
Aren’t online divorce sites good?
Online divorce websites that purport to help you draft paperwork are mostly garbage. Consider the following:
- Foreign owned: Some are owned by foreign entities. And they want you to input sensitive information Does that seem like a good idea? Only if you don’t care if your identity is stolen.
- Illogical: If you check out those websites – the ones that offer a divorce for $199, or $299, or something like that – you’ll notice they claim they produce documents for every state. How is that possible? Even within Illinois, counties have different requirements. For example, documents required in Cook County are different from those required in Will County. They don’t care – they’re just taking your money without any responsibility.
- Dangerous: Beyond the concern of identity theft, the online divorce sites are other wise dangerous. For example, one client of mine had previously used such a website, then realized it wasn’t a good idea. I review the paperwork to be filed with the court. The paperwork contained addressed, full birthdates, social security numbers, and everything else needed for identity theft. And all that stuff was meant to be filed with the court – and that’s public record!
- Substance: The documents produced by the online divorce websites are usually substantively deficient. And when I say usually – I mean almost always.
For the most party, online divorce websites make false promises, and are dangerous – and therefore, they are a ripoff.
Pay a divorce lawyer by the hour
You could pay a lawyer by the hour to represent you in your divorce. But, as you know, lawyers can be expensive. Further, if you are paying a lawyer by the hour, then it probably means you are fighting with your spouse. And that can take a long time, and be more expensive than people think. The disadvantage to paying a lawyer by the hour can be that costs are unpredictable.
Uncontested divorce for a flat fee
As an uncontested divorce lawyer in the Illinois counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will, I handle dozens of uncontested divorces a year. In general, they are quick and affordable. And that’s because I can offer a flat fee to represent people in an uncontested divorce. That’s why I wrote the article, “Divorce: Quick and Affordable.”
I can offer a flat fee because uncontested divorces involve a fairly predictable amount of work. And that’s because they are by agreement. If you want an uncontested divorce in Illinois, it is important to agree on all aspects of the divorce.
Sometime, if people both truly want an uncontested divorce, but cannot quit come to agreement, they can make progress through divorce mediation. For a bit more about that, check out my article titled, “Divorce Mediation: What? When? Why?.”
If you are interested in an uncontested divorce, I can generally quote you flat fee after asking a few questions. “FAQ: Flat-fee uncontested divorce in Illinois.”