As an uncontested divorce lawyer in Illinois, I often get called where people ask me “Do I need a lawyer for an uncontested divorce?” This FAQ is about why people should use a lawyer for an uncontested divorce in Illinois.
Can’t I write an agreement myself?
There are two possible agreements used in an uncontested divorce in Illinois.
- Marital settlement agreement: The agreement that contains the financial terms for an uncontested divorce in Illinois is called a marital settlement agreement, or “MSA”. An MSA will handle awarded all assets and debts, and address child support and spousal maintenance (formerly known as “alimony”).
- Judgment for Allocation of Parental Responsibilities: The “Judgment for Allocation” handles parenting related matters, such as whether or not parenting will involve shared decision-making, and parenting time.
Regardless of whether you are dealing with an MSA and a Judgment for Allocation, or just an MSA, there are many contingencies and potential problems to deal with. While some people have seen very simple forms online, or perhaps received them from the court, I can tell you that I would never use such a form for one of my clients – they are too bare bones. Often they don’t sufficiently handle debt issues, and they are totally deficient in addressing more complicated matters – such as real estate.
Further, part of the role of a lawyer is to ask questions, and using forms and templates doesn’t allow you to benefit from the follow-up questions and analysis a lawyer might have.
Long story short, you could probably draft a settlement agreement on your own, but it will probably be really bad.
Can I use an online divorce document preparation service?
Many people have the idea that they can use a document preparation service, such as divorcewriter.com, getdivorcepapers.com, and so forth.
Sure, those websites will spit out some documents that look a bit official. But from what I’ve seen, they are pure garbage.
For example, they usually guarantee the documents will work in court, but I’ve seen them produce documents that a) aren’t even used in court, and b) contain information that the Illinois Supreme Court says must be appear in court documents (such as social security numbers, etc).
Can I file the case myself?
Yes, anyone cane file a case. But that doesn’t mean that everything necessary has been filed. So you can file a case, get a court date, then go to court only to be told by the judge that you didn’t do it right. That will waste a lot of time, cause you to take unnecessary time off work, and so forth.
As an uncontested divorce lawyer, I take care of the filing.