What is an Uncontested Divorce?

An uncontested divorce is a dissolution of the marriage in which both parties agree to all terms of the divorce. An uncontested divorce is not simply a divorce where both parties agree that they want to end their marriage due to irreconcilable differences. The parties must agree on all aspects of the divorce settlement, including, but not limited to, division of the martial property and debts, payment of attorneys fees, maintenance, allocation of parental responsibilities and child support. A divorce is considered contested when the parties disagree on any of the above listed terms of the divorce. 750 ILCS 5/403(e).

Process of a Divorce

In both an uncontested and contested divorce, the first step is a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (PDM) is drafted and filed. This pleading will include the age, occupation and residence of each party; how long each party has resided in the state of Illinois; the date of the marriage and the place in which the marriage took place and was registered; whether any other Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is pending in any other county or state; the names, ages and addresses of all living children of the marriage and whether any spouse is pregnant; any arrangement as to support, allocation of parental responsibility of the children and maintenance of a spouse; the marital and nonmarital property of the parties and all marital and nonmarital debt. The relief is sought under ILCS 5/403. In order for a dissolution of marriage to be granted, the parties must reside in Illinois and have done so for 90 days immediately preceding the commencement of the case. The parties must also prove that the breakdown of the marriage was due to irreconcilable differences, and the court must determine that efforts of reconciliation have failed or that future attempts at reconciliation would be impracticable and not in the best interest of the family. The parties must allege they have lived separate and apart for a continuous period of not less than 6 months immediately preceding the entry of the judgment dissolving the marriage, or if the parties live in the same household but are not acting as husband and wife. If this is presented to the court, there will be a presumption that the requirement of irreconcilable differences has been met. 750 ILCS 5/401 (a).

The second document that must be prepared is the Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA). The MSA is an agreement entered into by the parties upon the dissolution of their marriage containing provisions for disposition of any property owned by either of them, maintenance of either of them, support, allocation of parental responsibilities, and support of their children after the children have reached majority. The petitioner's attorney generally prepares this document. All terms of the agreement, except for the terms providing for the support and allocation of parental responsibility, are binding upon the court unless it finds, after considering the economic circumstances of the parties and any other relevant evidence produced by the parties, that the agreement is unconscionable. This document will be incorporated into a Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage when the court enters judgment dissolving the marriage.

When there are minor children, children under eighteen (18) years of age, a Parenting Agreement must be drafted and the parties must attend a court ordered parenting class. This document sets out the responsibilities allocated to each party, including major decisions such as healthcare, education, religion and extracurricular activities in regards to the minor children. The Parenting Agreement will also include the schedule of parenting time of the parties.

The final document in a dissolution of marriage is the Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage. This document is the court order saying that the parties marriage is dissolved. A divorce is finalized through a "prove up" which is a court appearance where the elements of the agreement are put on the record and the judge may ask the parties any questions she deems necessary. 750 ILCS 5/413.

Benefits of an Uncontested Divorce

If both parties can agree on all major issues in regards to the dissolution of marriage, an uncontested divorce may be a good and inexpensive manner of proceeding with a divorce. An uncontested divorce generally takes a shorter amount of time, sometimes less than forty (40) days with no minor children, and will generally cost the parties less money. Since an uncontested divorce is generally quicker and less expensive, it is less disruptive to all parties involved. Children of parents going through the divorce process can bear a lot of stress while seeing their parents make this major life change, and by agreeing to all major terms and having an amicable divorce, the children will surely benefit.

Costs of an Uncontested Divorce

Our firm will start uncontested divorce cases at $1,000 if the parties do not have any children and $1,350 if the parties have children. The client is responsible for all court costs, which include filing of the documents and any other court fees, which run between $500-$625 in Cook County and Lake County. Our firm starts contested divorce cases at $1,500 plus court costs. Pleas call our office at 312-372-4569 or 847-208-4569 to schedule a consultation to determine if an uncontested or contested case is appropriate for you.