What is an Uncontested Divorce?
A divorce is often an agonizing, emotional, and heartbreaking time, even in marriages where both parties agree it should come to an end. This type of divorce, referred to as an “uncontested divorce,” can still be quite difficult and painful. During this time, critical decisions need to be made. However, due to the emotions involved, it’s often hard for people to think clearly or make sound decisions. It can also be confusing trying to wade through Illinois divorce law.
Our legal team at Wolfe & Stec is knowledgeable in all family law matters and can help ensure you are protected in an uncontested divorce. As experienced divorce attorneys, we’ll make certain you receive fair treatment as you face the other difficulties that accompany going through a divorce.
What is an Uncontested Divorce?
Contested divorces are, for the most part, far less complicated than contested divorces. How an uncontested divorce works is that both parties generally agree on all divorce-related issues, including the decision to pursue a dissolution of their marriage.
That being said, each state has specific requirements both spouses must meet before moving forward with their uncontested divorce. An experienced family law attorney can help ensure you meet all criteria so your divorce isn’t prolonged any more than necessary.
Do I Need a Lawyer for an Uncontested Divorce?
Technically, you don’t need a divorce attorney for an uncontested divorce. You can represent yourself. However, it’s in your best interests to have legal representation through the process. Obtaining legal representation is valuable for anyone who is going through a divorce, because the outcome will affect you for the rest of your life.
Help with Pre-Divorce Planning
If you’re in an unhappy or bad marriage and are considering obtaining a divorce, an attorney can help make the process easier before you even file the petition. Your divorce attorney can provide you with professional guidance. For instance, they can conduct pre-divorce planning to help you decide what you want or need to rebuild your life after divorce and counsel you as you approach these steps:
- Planning for your financial future
- Checking credit reports to see if any unexpected debt is involved
- Opening new accounts where you are the sole account holder
- Deciding on a proposed division of property
- Identifying other important issues that may need to be settled.
Having a plan mapped out before the divorce formally moves forward can help cut back on some of the emotional and difficult aspects of a divorce, even an uncontested one.
Dealing with Unexpected Conflicts
During negotiations to set the terms of an uncontested divorce, disagreements can emerge. It may be that there are misunderstandings or a situation where two spouses suddenly realize they perhaps don’t actually agree on matters they thought were already determined. Communication issues, which are often a problem in troubled marriages, can quickly escalate what might otherwise have been a minor hiccup. If any conflict occurs during negotiations, it doesn’t mean a full-blown court battle will be necessary. However, having an objective person, such as an attorney, helping you to navigate any struggles or unanticipated events will help the uncontested divorce process continue to go smoothly and, most importantly, keep your case out of court.
Compiling and Filing Paperwork
A family law specialist is also important because you want to ensure that everything is filed correctly and no steps are missed. Your attorney can prepare all necessary paperwork. Or, if your spouse’s attorney draws up the terms, your lawyer can review the paperwork to make certain its terms are agreeable to you. Issues such as the following will need to be settled:
- Custody and child visitation agreements
- Support for minor children
- Division of assets and debts
- Spousal support/alimony if eligible.
These are five of the most common settlement issues. Depending on your specific situation, there may be other complications, such as retirement benefits, premarital assets, or other disputes in the marriage. Your attorney can negotiate to make certain you receive the terms you expect and that you do not inadvertently agree to conditions you didn’t want or that are otherwise not agreeable to you.
How Long Does It Take to Get an Uncontested Divorce in Illinois?
The State of Illinois doesn’t impose a mandatory waiting period for an uncontested divorce, unlike contested divorces which require a wait of six months. The length of time it takes to obtain an uncontested divorce in Illinois will vary depending upon your case’s circumstances and how backed up the county courthouse is with cases waiting to be reviewed. In general, however, an uncontested divorce takes between two months and a year.
Keeping a divorce out of court is beneficial to everyone involved if both spouses are in agreement, because it helps to keep legal costs lower, speeds up the process, and enables everyone to move forward with their lives beyond the marriage’s dissolution without the anguish and stresses that typically accompany a full-blown court battle.
How Does a No-Contest Divorce Work in Illinois?
While the State of Illinois does not have a waiting period requirement in uncontested situations, there is a residency stipulation that must be met before the uncontested divorce moves forward. The state requires that one of the spouses must live in Illinois for a minimum of 90 days or be stationed in Illinois for this length of time if one party is a member of the Armed Forces. If there are minor children involved, they must have lived in Illinois for a minimum of six months.
In 2016, Illinois lawmakers eliminated the concept of “fault divorce” and issues such as adultery, abandonment, substance abuse, and other factors are no longer considered as grounds for divorce under state law. Married couples only need to prove “irreconcilable differences” to obtain a divorce, which is otherwise known as a “no-fault divorce.” However, courts may look at the traditional issues associated with a marital breakup when deciding child custody or visitation terms. That being said, if both spouses are in agreement on terms, this shouldn’t be a factor.
There is a fee to file for divorce, but if you can demonstrate you cannot afford that fee, there is a possibility that a waiver may be granted upon application to the court.
Call Us for Help in Your Uncontested Divorce
The experienced and compassionate legal team at Wolfe & Stec can help to ensure your rights are protected in an uncontested divorce. We’ll draw up or meticulously comb through the paperwork to make certain you receive a fair settlement with the terms you want. To learn more about our legal services or to schedule an appointment for a consultation, call our divorce lawyers today at 630-305-0222.