An uncontested divorce is a lot more common than a lot of people will have you believe. Many have long held onto the notion that filing for divorce has to be a process fraught with trauma and chaos. However, though the decision to end a marriage is by no means pleasant, there are ways to go about it without having to deal with additional stress emanating from the loss of a union’s closure.
In Illinois, you can dissolve a marriage by filing for an uncontested divorce. The state allows for an online divorce, and many couples opt for this type of arrangement because it is fast and quite affordable. In this article, we will aim to explain what an uncontested divorce is and what you have to do to file for a divorce over the internet without an attorney.
What is an Uncontested divorce?
In Illinois, like in other states in the US, an uncontested divorce is a dissolution arrangement in which both spouses in the union agree to divorce without any objections. Both spouses accept the major and minor terms, and the dissolution is affected by the court. Some of the key terms negotiated by couples before a divorce is granted include:
- division of assets procured during the union;
- division of financial debts and other liabilities if any;
- child visitation schedule and custody arrangements;
- child support especially for minors;
- and alimony.
If one party is against the other party’s decision to end the marriage, the case is considered contested and will have to go to court. Also, if one or more issues arise during the negotiation stage, the situation becomes contested and will have to be presented to the court for litigation. So while there are objections in a contested divorce case, there are none as far as uncontested divorce proceedings are concerned.
Under uncontested arrangements, couples filing for divorce can reach a settlement on their own or with the help of a mediator. Once achieved, the agreement is memorized in a settlement document, signed by both parties, and presented to the court.
How long does it take to file for an uncontested divorce in Illinois?
The first thing you need to know is that, unlike in most states, there is no waiting period in Illinois. However, only applicants who have lived in the state for a minimum of 90 days can file for divorce in an Illinois court.
Furthermore, the applicant has to prove to the court that the terms of the divorce are accepted by his or her spouse, as shown by their appended signature. Illinois has a special form which is meant to expedite the process, so couples don’t have to waste much time. These forms can be obtained and submitted online.
Conditions that qualify you for an uncontested divorce in Illinois
- One or both spouses must meet the residential requirements of Illinois
- Only couples that have been married for 8 years or less can file for divorce under this arrangement
- The marriage must have produced no kids with none on the way at the time of filing
- The couple must have lived apart for at least six months prior to the application
- None of the spouses own a house or a joint account containing more than $10,000
- The individual income of each spouse should be less than $20,000 per annum, with a combined annual income not above $35,000
- Both couples must have agreed to waive alimony permanently
- A no-fault divorce is agreed to by both parties citing irreconcilable differences
What you should do if you plan to file for divorce in Illinois
If you and your spouse have decided to file for an uncontested divorce in Illinois, there are specific steps you need to take. Below, we review the necessary steps required.
Identify the proper channels
Divorce without an attorney may be cheaper and faster, but it is an act that is still fraught with challenges. Failure to follow the proper protocols may lead to a district judge throwing out your case. The first thing you need to do is to identify the proper courts to file your divorce documents. The appropriate venue to submit your application is the family court located in the county where you or your spouse reside.
Fortunately for you, Illinois Judicial Branch operates an active court locator that can help you locate the court. All the 24 circuit courts in the state have jurisdictions to entertain civil cases, including divorce cases. Under each circuit court are subdivisions, one of which is a family court.
Complete the divorce document
After identifying the proper court in your district, the next step is to procure divorce documents. If you have done that, complete the forms by entering your personal information correctly. To avoid making mistakes or providing conflicting information, which could lead to an automatic rejection by the court, consider filing the form with your spouse. Couples who do a joint filing don’t have to serve each other the paperwork once completed. If only one party files the documents, they must serve the other party with copies of the papers for acknowledgment.
Make sure that the terms provided in the form are agreeable to you and your spouse. Also, go through the forms and search for errors. Make sure that all information is valid.
If you are working with a hard copy, you will have to submit the divorce papers in person. If using an online divorce platform such as https://onlineillinoisdivorce.com/, you can submit your documents to the court through e-filing or the online service. Kindly note that not all courts in Illinois entertain online divorce, so make sure you do your due diligence before starting the process.
Completing the process
The last stage involves both spouses appearing before a judge for a final divorce hearing. During the hearing, the judge will ask questions based on the information provided by the couple. Both parties will give a brief testimony attesting to the integrity of the information they provided. If the judge is satisfied with both parties’ statements, the divorce order will be signed and a copy given to each party.
Advantages of filing for an uncontested divorce in Illinois
According to statistics, over 95% of divorces in the US are uncontested, and one of the reasons for this the relative ease and advantages it offers couples. Here are some of the benefits that make this process an attractive one.
It is Inexpensive
Uncontested divorce processes are resolved privately by the individuals involved with or without the support of a mediator. Since both parties do not necessarily need an attorney’s services, the cost of divorce is significantly lower. Filing injunctions and periodic appearances in front of a judge become pricey. Many couples prefer to resolve their differences amicably and without protracted litigations. Even in cases where a mediator is involved, the fees paid to mediators are significantly lower than those paid to lawyers. This is one reason why divorce without an attorney is hugely popular.
Couples involved in an uncontested divorce get to retain privacy. Grievances are not aired out in a court setting or shared with attorneys and other strangers. Only statements made in court and information provided in the court documents will be made public. Everything else is confidential.
A Fast Process
Unlike what transpires between couples during contested divorce proceedings, an uncontested divorce is a much faster process. Since the divorce is on a no-fault basis, there isn’t any need for the couple to appear before a judge more than once. You simply complete and file the documents then wait to appear before a judge at a final hearing where the divorce order will be signed.
It is Less Stressful
Ending a marriage is never a pleasant activity, but uncontested divorce minimizes additional stress associated with divorce. It provides couples with the opportunity to go their separate ways under less fractious circumstances. Couples who opt for an uncontested arrangement don’t have to deal with the negative emotions associated with legal marital disputes or back and forth arguments in front of a judge.
The cost of divorce is relatively high if it is a contested one but significantly lower if it is uncontested. For an uncontested divorce to work, both parties must agree to divorce settlement terms that also work for their kids. The process is more affordable, faster, and less traumatic.