Divorce is often long and bitter fight over the remnants of a marriage. However, it does not have to be, especially if you and your spouse have decided to divorce due to simply growing apart. In Illinois, an uncontested divorce, also called a joint simplified dissolution of marriage, can save couples significant time and trouble if their relationship is still good enough to work together.
Essentially, an uncontested divorce simply means that neither spouse is interested in contesting any aspect of the dissolution of marriage. Generally, this is achieved by presenting the court with a divorce decree co-written by the spouses, stipulating to issues such as asset distribution. The court does have the right to modify a separation agreement authored by the spouses, though this will not usually occur unless the agreement is clearly unconscionable. Illinois is an equitable distribution state for the purpose of distributing marital assets, which means that the court will divide all marital property between the spouses in the most equitable way possible or will ensure that the spouses have reached an agreement that is reasonable.
It is important to keep in mind that Illinois law prohibits couples with a marital estate valued at more than $50,000 or who have children together from using the joint simplified dissolution procedure. Public policy holds that if couples have significant property or child custody issues to decide, the appropriate amount of time should be spent on those questions.
Requirements and Process
The criteria a couple must meet in order to be able to file using the joint simplified dissolution process are somewhat lengthy. Each of the following must be met, in addition to the aforementioned value of the marital estate and the lack of children together:
- Neither party may own any real estate interests;
- Neither spouse can be dependent on the other for support;
- The state divorce residency requirement has been met by at least one spouse;
- The marriage must have lasted less than 8 years; and
- Full financial disclosure has been made by both parties.
The process, meanwhile, is fairly simple: the appropriate papers are submitted to the appropriate courthouse, you and your spouse attend a final hearing, and unless your agreement is unfair or unconscionable, it will be accepted by the court. One important thing, as silly as it might sound, is to be certain which circuit court is the appropriate one in which to file your case. Many do not, or they assume any court is acceptable, when in reality a joint simplified dissolution must be filed in a county where you have ties. In most cases, this is the county where the marital home is located. Forms differ between circuit courts as well, so if you file your petition in the wrong court, it runs the risk of being discarded entirely.
Get the Help You Need
If you are unsure whether you qualify for a joint simplified dissolution of marriage, or simply need more information on the topic, it is a good idea to consult an experienced attorney. Our DuPage County divorce lawyers will work to help you fully understand your situation and try to achieve the best possible outcome. Contact our office today to set up an initial consultation.