Affordable divorce in Illinois is possible when your divorce is uncontested. An uncontested divorce is one where the spouses agree to all issues in the divorce at the very beginning of the process. No fighting, quick, and affordable. Here are a few FAQs for affordable divorce in Illinois.
How can divorce be affordable?
Lawyers are never “cheap.” Heck, fighting a traffic ticket can set you back a few hundred bucks.
But a divorce in Illinois can be affordable if it is uncontested. When a divorce is uncontested, there is no fighting in court, only one court appearance, and much less stress.
The thing about divorce in Illinois is this – it’s really the fighting that makes it expenses. When people agree to everything, a lawyer just needs to draft a legally-appropriate settlement agreement (and a few other things), and POOF – you’re divorced fairly quickly.
What do we need to agree to in divorce?
A divorce should resolve all issues related to our marriage. For example, the most common issues are below:
- How to divide assets
- How to divide debt
- Child support
- Spousal maintenance – formerly known as “alimony”
- Allocation of parenting responsibilities – formerly known as “child custody”
- Parenting time
As with most things, the devil is in the details. For example, if you own real estate, it can be somewhat complicated how to properly deal with getting rid of it. But an uncontested divorce lawyer should be familiar with that sort of thing.
Can we both use the same divorce lawyer?
If you want your divorce to be affordable, it might be tempting to try to use the “same lawyer” for both people. But that’s an extremely bad idea. In fact, if a potential client insists that I work for both spouses, I tell them I can’t do it. In fact, it is totally unethical for a divorce lawyer to represent both sides of a case.
The problem is this. Suppose people get along in the beginning of the process. But in the court of drafting a settlement agreement, one person has a question, and wants advice. If a lawyer gave that advice, that would be helping one spouse get an advantage over the other. And that’s the problem. If a lawyer is working for both sides a divorce, the lawyer cannot help one client gain an advantage over the other. Additionally, sometimes a divorce starts off as uncontested, then becomes contested. Which of the two spouses would continue using the same lawyer after the case becomes contested? That’s a mess.
Many people call me and say that they heard from a friend or relative that a lawyer can work for both spouses. Guess what? That person is uninformed – and they are giving you VERY bad advice if they tell you to use the same lawyer as your spouse.
Do both spouses need a lawyer?
So if both spouses cannot use the same lawyer, that means they both need their own lawyer, right?
A simplification of the uncontested divorce process is below:
- Client gives information to the lawyer
- The lawyer drafts documents, and get’s the client’s approval
- The client’s spouse reviews and signs the documents. If the spouse wants changes or edits, that can be discussed with the client, then the client can request the lawyer make those changes
- The client comes to court to finalize the divorce. The spouse’s appearance is optional, but sometimes a good idea.
As you will notice, #3 in the above process is about the spouse reviewing and agreeing to sign certain documents, the most important of which is the marital settlement agreement (MSA), and if the spouses have kids, the Judgment for Allocation of Parental Responsibilities.
At no time is the spouse forced into signing anything. When I draft documents for my clients, I make a large effort to write in plain English as much as possible. I’ve found that most of my client’s spouses have no trouble understanding the terms of the settlement agreements.
While the spouse of my my client probably doesn’t need a lawyer for full representation, sometimes the spouse does simply want a lawyer to review the settlement agreements. In that case, some lawyers will do that for a very small fee. That way the spouse can feel extra confident in what they are signing.
Can I get a flat fee divorce?
As an affordable divorce lawyer in Illinois, I enjoy offering representation for a flat fee.
I handle uncontested cases for an affordable flat fee because the amount of work required is predictable. With a flat fee, your costs are predictable as well.
Keep in mind that everything must be agreed upon from the get-go in order to get a lawyer for an affordable flat fee divorce,