Not all divorces are handled through a contentious court battle — in fact, most aren’t. Many couples settle their divorce outside of court through alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods, such as collaborative divorce and divorce mediation. With the help of a Springfield divorce attorney, couples can negotiate a separation agreement that they then present to the court for approval. This is a much simpler form of divorce that many couples prefer.
Divorces are either contested or uncontested. When a divorce is contested, spouses either disagree on what the terms of a separation agreement should be or that they should be getting divorced. In an uncontested divorce, spouses agree on all aspects of a separation agreement, such as child custody, property division, spousal maintenance, and child support. Many couples reach the agreement of an uncontested divorce through ADR methods.
Divorce mediation works when spouses negotiate these aspects of a separation agreement with one mediator present. This mediator, often an attorney or another professional, acts as a third party to help negotiations remain fair, legal, and on topic. The mediator may also have potential solutions that the parties may not have considered.
Mediation is most useful for spouses who are able and willing to communicate and discuss these issues together. In mediation, spouses are responsible for negotiation, not the mediator, so they must be capable of working together and compromising.
Collaborative divorce, like divorce mediation, is a method for spouses to negotiate the terms of their separation agreement outside of court. However, unlike divorce mediation, each spouse is represented by their own attorney. This enables each party to have their views represented, without placing them on opposing sides of a courtroom.
Depending on a couple’s situation, collaborative divorce can also be useful when spouses are contentious. This is because each party has their own rights and interests represented by an attorney, and these attorneys can guide discussions more effectively.
Joint Simplified Dissolution of Marriage
In Illinois, there is also the option of filing a joint simplified dissolution of marriage form. This is another form of uncontested divorce. However, there are several requirements that a couple must meet to qualify for this shortened form of divorce, including:
- Both spouses agree to get a divorce.
- Both spouses fill out the dissolution paperwork and attend the court hearing.
- One or both spouses meet the state residency requirements.
- The marriage was not longer than 8 years.
- Spouses have no biological or adopted children, and neither spouse is pregnant.
- Spouses have no interest in real property or shared retirement accounts.
- Any individual interests in retirement accounts do not exceed the combined value of $10,000.
- Neither spouse will receive spousal support.
- All marital property, excluding debts, totals less than $50,000.
- Spouses create a written agreement for dividing any assets over $100 in value and assigning responsibility for debts.
- The combined gross income of spouses is below $60,000, and each spouse does not make more than $30,000.
- Spouses have disclosed assets, debts, and income tax returns from every year of marriage.
A couple must meet all these requirements to qualify for this simplified form of divorce.
Benefits of Avoiding Litigation
There are several benefits to avoiding taking your divorce to court, including:
- It is less expensive, as there are fewer court costs, and attorney fees are typically less costly.
- You are able to work with your spouse, which can set a strong foundation for each of your new lives, especially if you are co-parenting.
- You have more control over the outcome, rather than leaving it to the discretion of the family law judge.
- It is less time-consuming, as litigated divorces can take a year or longer, depending on the complexity of the issues and the availability of the court.
ADR methods and uncontested divorces are not the right solution for every divorce. It’s important to talk your unique situation over with a qualified divorce attorney. They can help you determine the method of divorce that is the least stressful while still protecting your rights.
Q: How Long Does a Simple Divorce Take in Illinois?
A: An uncontested divorce between spouses has no mandatory waiting period beyond meeting the residency requirements. This means that couples can get a divorce finalized as soon as the court has availability if they have their separation agreement completed.
Often, though, spouses will file for divorce and then take the time to negotiate the terms of their separation agreement. Depending on the ability of each spouse to communicate and compromise, and the complexity of the assets, debts, and other factors, this may take several weeks, several months, or longer.
Q: What Is a Joint Simplified Divorce in Illinois?
A: A joint simplified divorce is a faster way for some couples to dissolve their marriage than through contested or uncontested divorce processes. However, there are significant requirements, and couples must meet all of them to qualify for this form of dissolution. Some of these requirements include that the couple has:
- No children
- No high-value assets
- No property
- No shared retirement accounts
- Gross income no higher than $30,000
Q: What Is a Wife Entitled to in a Divorce in Illinois?
A: Illinois is an equitable distribution state, meaning that both spouses enter litigation with equal claim to all assets. Then, the court reviews certain factors about each party’s contributions and losses for marital property and determines what is a fair split based on those factors. This may mean that spouses receive equal portions of marital assets, or one spouse may receive a greater portion. If spouses do not want their assets divided by equitable distribution, they can negotiate property division outside of court.
Q: How Long Can a Spouse Drag Out a Divorce in Illinois?
A: Although a spouse can purposefully slow down the process of divorce litigation by refusing to compromise or cooperate, the court will eventually reach a final court order for the divorce. In an uncontested divorce outside of court, a spouse could theoretically drag out the divorce process as long as they want, as the couple must reach an agreement to finalize the separation agreement.
If you are working with your spouse on an uncontested divorce and feel that they are purposefully being uncooperative with the process, you may want to take the divorce to court.
Contact Stange Law Firm
In the difficult and often emotionally taxing situation of a divorce, you need compassionate and dedicated attorneys. Contact Stange Law Firm today to learn how we can guide you through the divorce process.