As an lawyer representing people who want a quick and affordable uncontested divorce (for a flat fee), I know the value I bring. I also litigate cases, and I know what problems can occur – so I want to help my uncontested clients avoid those problems. But sometimes people call me and want to know if they really need a lawyer for an uncontested divorce. So this article gives 5 examples of why a divorce lawyer is useful for an uncontested divorce in Illinois.
Ex. 1: Filing properly, and other procedure
This may seem like the most mundane of reasons, but case must must be properly filed and certain procedures must be followed.
Following proper procedure is one of the hardest things for new lawyers. So it’s extra hard for non-lawyers. If you don’t follow the proper procedure, you could very likely find yourself wasting a lot of time and money. For example, most people don’t get unlimited paid vacation time. Therefore, people like to use their vacation time wisely. So if you need to take vacation time to got to court – don’t you want to make that trip to court useful? Unfortunately, people waste trips to court when they try to handle cases themselves. Imagine going to court for a court date to finalize the divorce – only to be sent home because the proper procedure was not followed.
Ex. 2: Avoiding problems with children
If you have kids, then dealing with the kids is likely a major concern. In most uncontested divorce cases in Illinois, people get along well enough – that’s why their divorce is uncontested. However, people are also getting divorce for a reason. For example, they don’t get along so well, or don’t communicate well. In a situation like that, people can easily slide into conflict about kids even though they want to work things out smoothly.
As a divorce lawyer, one of my goals is to help people avoid unnecessary conflict about kids while helping people understand that flexibility goes a long way. Sometimes clients come to me for a flat fee uncontested divorce and propose parenting plans that are almost sure to be problematic. As a divorce lawyer, what I can do is suggest a plan that not only will work for the parents, but will also be acceptable to the court. Keep in mind – judges don’t have to accept every settlement agreement put before them.
Ex. 3: Dividing debt
Debt is a hidden problem in many divorces. Married people can of course hold debt that is separately-titled, but they can also hold debt jointly (with both people’s names on it).
Many people think they will not have any problems if they don’t have any jointly-titled debt. They often say “We don’t have anything together.” However – with very few exceptions – when a person is married, debt acquired by one party is also the other party’s debt regardless of whether or not the debt is titled in only one person’s name. So for example, if you get married, and your spouse opens a credit card with only your spouse’s name on it, that that credit card company could come after you.
There is no way to completely wipe out all risk. But when you use an Illinois uncontested divorce lawyer, you help in crease the chances that you will be protected from debt surprises that occur long after you thought your divorce was finalized.
Ex. 4: Dividing assets
Everyone wants to keep what they think is there. They say “I’m going to keep what’s mine.” However, with few exceptions, any assets acquired during a marriage are the assets of both spouses. For example, if started after a marriage, a bank account titled only to one spouse will be considered “marital property” subject to division in divorce. It doesn’t matter if only one person’s name is on the account.
Even in an uncontested divorce in Illinois, people generally want to make sure they are going to get to keep what they want – without worrying about it later. An uncontested divorce lawyer will have skill an experience in helping clients make sure they get what they want from the marriage, without worry that their former spouse will come after something years later.
Ex. 5) Calculating payments
Child support and spousal maintenance (aka “alimony”) are major concerns of many divorces – even flat fee uncontested divorces. There have been recent statutory changes in both areas.
In Illinois, both types of payment are determined using a statutory formula.
So on one hand, there is not much debate about how much child support and/or spousal maintenance should be paid. Child support guidelines are found in Section 505 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (the “IMDMA,” 750 ILCS 5/505). Spousal maintenance guidelines are found in Section 504 of the IMDMA (750 ILCS 5/504).
On the other hand, people often come up with creative solutions in an uncontested divorce. For example, in exchange for more of the assets, a person who would otherwise get statutory guideline maintenance might instead settle for no maintenance or less maintenance than statutory guidelines indicate.
One thing to keep in mind is that judges don’t need to accept any agreement that is presented to them. If a judge doesn’t like someone’s provision regarding spousal maintenance, then the divorce will not be finalized.
So how can you tell if a judge will not like settlement you both comp up with?
According to Section 453 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/453), the judge must find that the terms of a divorce are “not unconscionable.” In other words, the terms of a divorce cannot be so far afield from public policy that they are offensive.
An uncontested divorce lawyer will have experience in crafting agreements that judges will find acceptable.