Uncontested Divorce – The Basics

First we will start with what’s not an uncontested divorce.  If you don’t know how to contact your spouse, you cannot get an uncontested divorce.  You will be able to get a divorce by default, but even still, that it not as easy as it sounds.  I will address a divorce by default in another article.

An uncontested divorce is one where the parties have agreed on how they will divide their assets and liability, who the children will live with, who will make decisions for the children, and how much support and/or maintenance will be paid.

What Are the Advantages of an Uncontested Divorce?

The main advantages to an uncontested divorce are:

  • Cost – It’s usual done for a flat fee.  You know up front how much the entire divorce of going be.  If you are looking for a cheap divorce, it’s your best option.
  • Control – You determine the outcome.  When people fight, usually no one is happy with the outcome.
  • Efficiency – You can be divorced much faster if it’s by agreement…usually within 30 days from the date of filing.

Assets and Liabilities

Under Illinois law, everything that is purchased after the date of marriage, and every debt that is accrued after the date of marriage, is marital in nature.  People are frequently surprised to learn that even though they purchased cars, property, and accrued credit card debt in their separate names, in the eyes of the law, these are marital assets or liability.  The only way to make property non-marital after the date of the marriage is to draft a post-nuptial agreement.  Of course, the agreement must comport with Illinois law.  Attempting to such a document on your own, or via something you found on the internet, could leave you in a much worse position.

On the other hand, if you owned property prior to the marriage, that property may be non-marital in nature.  I use the caveat that it may be non-marital because non-marital property can become marital property depending on how it’s handled during the marriage.

Other assets include retirement benefits.  Since all income earned during the marriage is marital money, it follows that all retirement benefits accrued during the marriage are a marital assets.  In the context of an uncontested divorce, you must decide how these benefits will be divided.  You should also keep in mind that a separate order called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order or QDRO is needed to divest the benefits from the retirement plan.  This would not be included in the cost for an uncontested divorce.

In the context of an uncontested divorce, the parties should have discussed all these issues and reached a resolution as to what party will be taking what assets and what party will be taking what liabilities.  They should also make note of any property that they consider to be non-marital in nature.

Allocation of Parental Responsibility

Illinois no longer has custody.  As of January of 2016, the new statutory framework is allocation of parental responsibility.  The four areas are healthcare, education, religion and extracurricular activity.  Both parents can be responsible for making decisions in all four areas, or there can be some combination of the above.

The parents also have to decide on parenting time for the children and which address will be the primary address.  The purpose of the primary address is mainly for registering the children for school.  It does not give one parent any superior rights over the other parent.  The rights are governed by the terms of the allocation agreement.

Next Steps

If you think that you might be a candidate for an uncontested divorce, please give me a call.  My office is conveniently located in Skokie, and I can be reached at (708) 466-6912.  I handle uncontested cases in Cook, Lake, Dupage and Kane counties.