FAQ: Fast and Affordable Uncontested Divorce in Illinois

If you want a fast and affordable uncontested divorce in Illinois, I’m an Illinois divorce lawyer who can help you out. Call me at 312-554-5433 if you want to get started now.

In many cases, you divorce can be done in about one month, for a flat fee. I do handle nasty litigated cases, but if you an manage it, an uncontested divorce in Illinois is the way to go.

I practice in the Illinois counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will.  I wrote this FAQ on uncontested divorce in Illinois to help you get the answers you need to get a quick and affordable divorce in Illinois.

Do I need a lawyer?:

If you want to get divorced in Illinois without the best chance of putting your marriage behind you, then you need a lawyer for an uncontested divorce in Illinois.

I guess you could get divorced without a lawyer – but that could lead to disaster. I have several cases right now where people who handled their divorces themselves had to hire me afterwords because the agreements they drafted on their own were garbage.

What you need to know is that just because a couple manages to get a judge to grant them a divorce does not mean all the problems are solved. Though judges do look at the settlement agreements that come across the bench, they can’t watch out for all problems – and they don’t represent you. So a judge might sign a marital settlement agreement that has some very problematic terms in it.

How much does it cost?

I do offer flat fees for an uncontested divorce in Illinois. When a divorce is uncontested, that means the spouses agree to everything. I can provide guidance, but the spouses are required to come to agreement on all issues.

The agreement is what can make an uncontested divorce in Illinois so affordable, and quick.

How is property divided?

To some extent, the division of property is simple. Marital property is divided in a divorce. Non-marital property is not.

With the exceptions of gifts and inheritances that are not mixed with marital property, marital property is that which is acquired during the marriage.

One common misconception is that a person can keep property in that person’s name. But that’s not the law. It doesn’t matter much in whose name property is titled – if it’s marital property, it will be part of the “marital estate” that is split as part of the divorce.

I’ve found that almost everyone who calls me has misconceptions about what property he or she will get to keep after the divorce. If you do your divorce without a lawyer, and you don’t know what is marital and what is not, you are asking for trouble.

What documents are needed?

There are many documents needed for a divorce, and they vary by county, to some extent. However, regardless of what Illinois county you are in, if you want an uncontested divorce in Illinois, you will one, if not two major agreements.

The first you will need is as marital settlement agreement, or “MSA;” that handles the financial matters. Then you will also need a joint parenting agreement, or “JPA” (or simply a parenting agreement if there won’t be joint legal custody).

As a lawyer who practices in the Illinois counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will, part of my job is to handle the various particular documents and forms that may be needed in each of those counties.

What about retirement accounts?

If either spouse as a 401k, pension, or other similar retirement account, those accounts can only be split without tax consequences by the use of a qualified domestic relations order (a “QDRO”) or other such order.

If you have a retirement account to split, then you should use a lawyer to do it. In fact, the task is so specialized that most divorce lawyers don’t prepare QDROs – they have a specialist do it.

It horrifies me that many lawyers refer their QDRO preparation jobs to a lady in Wisconsin whose not even a lawyer. If you want to know more about who should prepare a QDRO in Illinois, please check out my article, “Who is the best QDRO lawyer in Illinois?

Who gets the house?

Some people have the idea that if they have a house they cannot get an uncontested divorce in Illinois. That’s not true. In fact, I have handled many uncontested divorces for people with fairly high net worths.

In an uncontested divorce, parties have to agree on what to do with the house. It’s often the major asset.

The basic options of what to do with the house are as follows:

  1. Sell the house: Split the proceeds as agreed.
  2. One party keeps it: One person can keep the house, and the other party can take more of the other assets.
  3. Foreclosure: Many houses are in foreclosure, or underwater. There are special considerations in these situations that go beyond the scope of this article.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to properly handle the house in an uncontested divorce in Illinois. I often draft complicated clauses to handle real estate. In fact, many agreements I review from other lawyers do a terrible job of handling real estate. By the way, if you are interested in some thoughts about hiring a lawyer, check out my article, “Who’s the Best Divorce Attorney in Chicago?

What about child custody?

Child custody is about “legal custody,” which basically means decision-making power. There are two types of legal custody:

  • Joint custody: In joint custody, parents are supposed to make decisions jointly.
  • Sole custody: One parent has decisions making power, but should inform the other parent.

How much time the children spend with either parent does not depend upon whether the custody is joint legal custody or sole legal custody.

How about child visitation?

Parents can agree on visitation with the children. I often give my clients ideas of what a “standard” visitation schedule might be. And by the way, the courts now use the  term “parenting time” instead of “visitation” (I guess because they think “parenting time if more appropriate).

One part of my job is to advise clients about what types of visitation schedules work out; the idea is not to agree to something which will be impracticable.

How is child support determined?

Child support is basically statutory, with some deviations possible.

For more about child support, see my article, “Illinois child support: the basics.”

What about alimony?

Alimony is now called “spousal maintenance.” There are guidelines for it. But in an uncontested divorce in Illinois, the parties will come to an agreement which involves no maintenance, temporary maintenance, or permanent maintenance. For temporary and permanent maintenance, the parties need to agree on an amount of monthly maintenance. And for temporary maintenance, there are time limits placed on the maintenance.

How long does an uncontested divorce take?

Many of the uncontested divorces I handle in Illinois can be completed in about one month. Some, in less than one month.

But there are some peculiarities by depending on which Illinois county you are in.

  • Cook County: Normally the fastest – could take less than one month
  • DuPage County: Almost as fast as Cook County
  • Lake County: I normally expect between 30 days and 2 months
  • Will County: It will take at least 30 days, because after the case is filed the court will not schedule the finalization of the divorce until at least 30 days have past

Does cheating matter?

If you are getting an uncontested divorce in Illinois, adultery really doesn’t matter much. For more about that, see my article titled, “Cheating and adultery: relevant to divorce in Illinois?

I don’t want to go into detail about cheating and adultery simply because it is not necessary. However, you should know that if one married person spends money on an extra-marital paramour, then those funds spend could be characterized as “dissipation” so that they would have  to be essentially paid back into the marital estate.

About the author: Contact Illinois family law attorney David Wolkowitz at 312-554-5433 or online. He is a family law and divorce attorney serving Chicago and the Counties of Cook, Champaign, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will. Areas of practice include divorce, uncontested divorce, child custody, visitation, spousal maintenance, child support, and the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction & Enforcement Act (the “UCCJEA”).