File an Uncontested Divorce in Illinois

Uncontested Divorce in Illinois

Divorce is never easy. However, if you and your spouse are on speaking terms, then getting an uncontested divorce in Illinois can make the process significantly easier.

In a contested divorce, the added conflict tends to lead to the need for extensive negotiation or litigation. Added to that, if one spouse is hiding anything from the other, you may have to hire third- party experts, go through a formal discovery process, and any number of other steps. As you can imagine, these can drag out and end up costing a lot more money.

In a uncontested divorce, couples work together to come up with a marital settlement agreement. This is what is submitted to the court and outlines how you’ll deal with spousal maintenance, child support, and property division.

Additionally, in marriages with minor children, you’ll need to create a parenting plan. This will lay out parenting time and responsibilities, or in other words, where the kids are staying and who gets to make major decisions. In general, courts like to see parenting plans that maximize time and responsibilities between both parents.

Because all of this is worked out in advance, an uncontested divorce can be settled with just one court appearance. Couples who have not been married for long, have no children, and earn a low combined income may also qualify for a Joint Simplified Divorce, which is even faster. To qualify for a Joint Simplified Divorce, you have to meet pretty strict criteria.[1]

In general, as long as the marriage settlement isn’t horrifically lopsided to favor one spouse, and adequately provides for any children, the judge will agree to it.

Though it is possible to do an uncontested divorce without a lawyer, it’s usually advisable to consult one. Even when couples agree on everything, a lawyer can make sure nothing is overlooked and that all documents and court proceedings are handled correctly. Mistakes, even innocent ones, can cause delays or added costs in a divorce.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a joint petition for divorce?

A joint petition divorce is when both couples file for a Dissolution of Marriage together instead of separately. Since you won’t have to officially notify the other spouse and will have worked out the big details in advance, it can drastically save time.

How much does an uncontested divorce cost in Illinois?

The cost of a divorce can vary depending on whether you use an attorney, if you have children, and how much property and assets are being divided.
No matter what, you’ll have to pay a filing fee with the circuit court in the county you live in. The fees vary county by county but typically are around $250-$350. Some cases can start uncontested and become contested. Contested simply means that one side doesn’t fully agree with part of the divorce.
As a first step, a judge would order mediation to help you negotiate, which may require another fee. A fully DIY divorce with no lawyer might cost between $300 and $500. If you use an attorney, the price can vary but tends to be a bit more expensive. However, it’s worth noting that when doing a divorce without an attorney, you must make sure you familiarize yourself with court procedure and file paperwork correctly. Any mistakes might result in having to refile (and pay the fees again) or delay the case.
If you can’t afford to file on your own, Illinois allows you to apply for a waiver of court fees so you don’t have to pay.

How long does an uncontested divorce take?

In Illinois, given you meet the residency requirements, there is no mandatory waiting period for an uncontested divorce. This means that if there are no issues with your marriage settlement, the divorce could be finalized after only one court appearance.
Given that the court is not terribly backed up with other cases, you could potentially finalize a divorce in as little as a few weeks or several months.

Do both spouses have to agree to a divorce for it to happen?

No. Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that neither spouse has to prove wrongdoing to get a divorce. That means you can file for a divorce without getting permission from the other. If the other spouse answers after being officially notified and does not agree, then the case is considered contested.
If your spouse is living somewhere else, you can still file for divorce. To do this you would file alone, then issue a summons to officially notify them of the divorce. If you know your spouse’s address, you can file with the Sheriff’s office or a private process server. If you don’t know where your spouse is, you can file a summons through a local newspaper.
If your spouse does not reply to the summons within 30 days, then the divorce will proceed as uncontested.

How much does it cost to file divorce papers in Illinois?

In Illinois, you file your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and all other necessary paperwork with the circuit judge in the county where one or both spouses reside. The fees vary from county to county but are on average around $300.
Illinois offers a waiver of court fees for people with low income or anyone who can’t afford the fees on their own.

References: [1]Joint Simplified Divorce