This is a brief overview of some frequently asked questions regarding an uncontested divorce in Illinois. In Illinois, the legal term for a divorce is a “dissolution of marriage,” but here it’s just called a divorce.
Uncontested Divorce in Illinois, Generally
- What is an uncontested divorce? It is one where the spouses agree on all aspects of the divorce. This includes the divisions of assets and debts, children, and possibly other matters. The devil is in the details here – often people think they have agreed on everything because they haven’t truly discuss all the issues.
- Do I need a lawyer for an uncontested divorce in Illinois? Technically, no. But you might mess up and experience divorce deja vu – having to come back and deal with your divorce years later because your marital settlement agreement (MSA) was poorly drafted.
- What is an online divorce? There are a bunch of nonsense websites that purport to create all the documents you need for a divorce. Some people refer to this as an “online divorce.” However, the sites can customize agreements for you, and don’t answer follow-up questions like a lawyer can. Further, a website does not go to court with a person.
- Can we agree to anything we want? Yes, within reason. A judge is not required to sign the agreements brought to court by the parties. Judges will not sign agreements they find to be unconscionable, or those they think will lead to problems in the future.
- Who can get an uncontested divorce in Illinois? Anyone who meets residency requirement and who can come to agreement on the relevant issues can get an uncontested divorce. Whether you live in Chicago, Skokie, Naperville, Champaign or Springfield – or any other county in Illinois – there is a lawyer who can help you get divorce amicably and peacefully for an affordable cost.
- Where can I find an uncontested divorce lawyer? Use this form to contact a lawyer.
Divisions of Property – Assets and Debt
- Is property divided 50-50? No. In Illinois, property is divided equitably – or fairly, pursuant to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. In a contested divorce, the judge decides what is fair. In an uncontested divorce, the parties decide was is fair.
- How is property (assets) divided? In Illinois, marital property is divided. Non-marital property is not divided. For the most part, something is marital property if it was acquired during the marriage. However, there are important exceptions. For example, by default, inheritances and gifts are non-marital property. There are also exceptions upon exceptions. If non-marital property is co-mingled (or mixed) with marital property, then it can be transformed into marital property. Issues of properly classifying property can be a key role of a divorce lawyer.
- How is debt divided? Pretty much the same as property. If debt is classified as marital and non-marital, then only the marital debt is divided.
- How long does an uncontested divorce take? Two to three weeks is about the quickest it can be done. It can take longer if the agreements drafted take more work, or if the other party wants more time to consider the agreements drafted.
Child Custody and Visitation
- How is child custody determined? In an uncontested divorce, the parties can agree on any custody arrangement they want, within reason. Technically, according the the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, there is no preference for joint legal custody.
- What are the types of child custody? Many people refer to legal custody and physical custody; however, the term “physical custody” is an anachronism and not used in court. Now, there is simply legal custody and the various issues regarding the child’s primary residence, and parenting time (or visitation). Legal custody can be sole legal custody or joint legal custody.
- What’s the difference between sole legal custody and joint legal custody? With sole legal custody, one person has most the decision making power. With joint legal custody, both parents share decision-making power. However, in an uncontested divorce in Illinois, parties can agree to any arrangement, within reason.
- How is a visitation schedule determined? Visitation can be complicated, and there are sub-parts to any visitation schedule. What is the regular, weekly schedule? What is the holiday and special occasion schedule? Where will the children sleep? Who provides transportation? Your uncontested divorce lawyer will be able to help you address the necessary points to avoid disagreement later.
- How much child support will I have to pay?: Child support is paid according to statutory guidelines. However, particularly in an uncontested divorce, parents can agree to deviations on the statutory guidelines.
- What is child support for? Anything the recipient wants to use it for. The recipient doesn’t have to provide any accounting to the person’s paying the child support.
- Can I raise or lower child support? In an uncontested divorce, parents can agree to handle support as the see fit, within reasonable limits. Also, support can be raised or lowered in the future based on various circumstances, such as if the payor experiences job loss or disability, either person’s income sufficiently changes.
Spousal maintenance and support (Alimony)
- What is alimony? The term “alimony” is no longer technically correct. Court’s refer to it as spousal maintenance or spousal support.
- How much spousal maintenance will I have to pay? Any amount agreed to, within reason.
County for Illinois Uncontested Divorce
- In what Illinois county can I get divorced? To get divorced in a given county in Illinois, you or your spouse must live in that county. If not, the judge won’t let the divorce proceed. For example, suppose you live in Champaign, and your spouse lives in Chicago. You can get divorced in either Champaign or Cook County, but not in Du Page County. See the Your County page for a list of more specific information.
You might find the following video useful if you live in Cook County, Illinois (and maybe if you don’t):