Chicago Divorce Lawyers discuss uncontested divorce
The Chicago divorce lawyers of Ward Family Law, LLC handle cases in a wide variety of contexts – from collaborative law to mediation to litigation.
We also handle uncontested divorces.
Chicago Uncontested Divorce (also known as the agreed divorce or friendly divorce)
Our legal team of Chicago divorce lawyers can also help you with the detailed paperwork necessary to effectuate an uncontested divorce in Chicago, but the first question you need to ask is, “Are you in agreement on ALL of the terms of the divorce?”
If so, then one party in the couple can hire a Chicago divorce attorney and advise the attorney that there is an agreement. The agreement has to be prepared pursuant to the formalities of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, which is detailed below.
The Chicago divorce attorney is then formally hired by that one party and the attorney owes an obligation to that one party NOT the other party. In an uncontested divorce, what this means is that the attorney can tell their client what they “should do” while the attorney can tell the other party merely “what’s going on.” In a truly uncontested divorce, this distinction can be meaningless since an agreement should have already been reached by the parties.
When parties approach top Chicago divorce lawyers to prepare an uncontested divorce, the divorce lawyers typically provide both parties with an Illinois financial affidavit to aid in the preparation of the requisite documents to proceed with a Chicago divorce and ensure that the parties have fully disclosed all income, assets and liabilities.
An overview of the uncontested divorce filing process in Chicago and a summary of the divorce papers that are typically filed with the family law or domestic relations clerk should not be intended to be an exact step-by-step guide for those “do it yourself divorce” filers, due to the fact that many Chicago divorce cases are unique and the overview presented here is often not the only method of obtaining an uncontested divorce in Chicago. As always, it is strongly recommended to retain a top Chicago divorce attorney representation in any divorce case, whether or not it is an “uncontested” divorce.
“The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act,” 750 ILCS 4/401 et Seq., guides the divorce process in Illinois. In Illinois the term irreconcilable differences describes what other jurisdictions call No-Fault divorce. It means that ” … differences have caused an irretrievable breakdown in the marriage, that past efforts at reconciliation have failed, that future efforts at reconciliation would be impractical and not in the best interests of the family.”
In Illinois, the Petitioner (the party seeking the divorce) must be a resident of the state for at least 90 days before filing. The divorce may be filed in the county in the Circuit Court where he or she or the Respondent resides. In Illinois, the e-filing procedure and the forms of the necessary paperwork may vary from county to county.
However, at a minimum, the following steps must be taken in the Chicago divorce process:
(1) E-File a petition for divorce with the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County in Chicago. This is called the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
(2) Notify the respondent that he or she has been filed against. This is done with a Summons (or alternatives may be obtained through discussions with your attorney).
(3) Get a court date
(4) Prepare forms needed for the court date, which are detailed and substantial
(5) Attend the court date
(6) Follow the judge’s order
While this seems simple, it is not.
The Chicago divorce process, therefore, begins with the filing of a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. This must be served with a Summons by the sheriff or a private process server. When a Chicago divorce is uncontested, it may be finalized at a brief divorce hearing, which only the petitioner is required to attend. The fee for filing a divorce petition is different in each county.
Chicago requires the following information in the initial petition for divorce:
(1) the name, age, occupation, address and length of residence in Illinois of each spouse;
(2) the date and place of marriage;
(3) if another divorce is pending in another jurisdiction;
(4) that the spouses are residents of Illinois and meet the state’s jurisdictional requirements;
(5) that grounds for divorce do exist;
(6) if the wife is not now pregnant;
(7) arrangements for the support, custody and visitation of any children;
(8) arrangements for any spousal support;
(9) relief requested (such as dissolution of marriage, approval of marital settlement form and/or approval of parenting agreement).
Notification takes the form of a Summons. The time for delivering the summons is determined by each county and is printed on a Service of Process form, which when signed proves that the papers were delivered and when returned becomes part of the record. After the Summons, the Respondent may file an appearance and written response in the court. The appearance is a form he or she files in response to the petition. This must be e-filed with the court.
If both spouses agree to the divorce AND all of the terms then they can then begin working on the Marital Settlement Agreement and/or the Allocation Judgment (with Parenting Plan) to submit to the court, though it is strongly recommended to be prepared by an attorney, as discussed above.
If both spouses don’t agree to the divorce AND all of the terms, then the matter is not an uncontested divorce.
To that end, his or her response will contain allegations in the Petition. A hearing may be held. The court may have a pre-trial conference. Court orders will be issued, which may resolve, on a temporary basis, such disputes as living arrangements, parenting time, and support. During this period, each side typically does discovery, where each party obtains information about the marriage, which can include subpoenas and depositions. Many Illinois counties now require the filing of a Financial Affidavit and supporting documentation in the case. The primary use of this form is to aid in the determination of asset and debt allocation, support, maintenance and the division of property.
Negotiations may continue in an effort to resolve disputed issues, but if the couple cannot or will not agree, a series of hearings are preliminary to the divorce trial, which is costly and enervating. Again, a Chicago divorce attorney is a key component to this successful process.
Depending upon the trajectory of the divorce, a couple may need between 10 and 20 documents during the course of a Chicago divorce. Make sure to contact the divorce and family lawyers at www.wardfamilylawchicago.com to obtain more information.