Divorce is one of the most painful and difficult experiences a person may experience. Aside from the end of a marriage, the couple also needs to deal with complicated legal proceedings.
However, it is possible for a couple who is on an amicable break to to work together and seek an uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce in Cook County can save you and your ex time, energy, and money.
Our family lawyers at Tommalieh Law can help you understand how uncontested divorces work in Cook County. If you have any questions, please feel free to consult us.
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What is an Uncontested Divorce in Cook County?
There is no specific law that gives an exact definition of an uncontested divorce (also known as dissolution of marriage in Illinois). However, when people refer to uncontested divorces, they are typically talking about a situation where both parties agree that they need a divorce and agree to divide everything, which may include:
- Division of marital property
- Division of marital debt
- Child custody agreements and visitation schedules
- Child support and medical insurance for minor children
- Spousal maintenance, also called alimony
- Other issues involving the marriage
Both parties can reach an agreement on their own or with the help of a mediator. If the couple cannot reach an agreement due to specific issues, they have the right to litigate those issues before a judge during their trial. The dissolution agreement needs to be signed by both parties.
Keep in mind that an uncontested divorce is not the same as filing for irreconcilable differences, which is the only ground upon which a couple can file for divorce in Illinois, whether it is contested or uncontested.
Difference Between Contested and Uncontested Divorce
The main difference between an uncontested and a contested divorce is how much the court is involved in the issues surrounding the marriage. In an uncontested divorce, the divorcing couple will have one hearing date where they can provide testimonies to the court that they both agree to the divorce. The court will then accept their divorce agreements and grant them the divorce.
Typically, mediation and litigation are not required since both the parties are in agreement with each other. However, a divorce can become contested if the couple fails to reach an agreement on everything and reach an impasse.
In an uncontested divorce, a mediator is usually necessary and oftentimes, the couple can open a litigation process in front of the judge.
Basic Overview of Filing an Uncontested Divorce in Cook County
It can be difficult to handle your divorce case without an attorney in Cook County. You will be responsible for knowing what documents to file and where to file them. You will need to file your case in the proper court location, which is a family court in the county where you or your spouse lives.
In Illinois, there are 24 circuit courts or entry-level courts and each of them is assigned the judicial work of one or multiple counties. These circuit courts have the jurisdiction to hear civil cases, including divorce. These courts are divided into several subdivisions, including the family court that handles divorce cases, domestic abuse, and juvenile cases.
If you don’t know where your circuit court is, the Illinois Judicial Branch offers a court locator, which you can use to identify where you should begin your divorce procedure.
If you do not file your case at the right court, the judge may transfer your case to another court or worse, throw away your case altogether and you will have to endure the hassle of paying the filing fees once again and filing the case again.
Once you are ready to file for divorce, you can download the Illinois uncontested divorce papers either online, through your local courthouse, or through Illinois Legal Aid. Your uncontested divorce form may vary a bit from county to county but you can find some divorce papers on the Cook County Court website, which can give you an idea of what to expect.
If you are still not certain which form to fill, you can contact the clerk of court at the local courthouse and ask for their assistance in finding the right forms for you.
The person filing for divorce must have their spouse served with a notice of divorce and must use a process server or the sheriff in Cook County to physically bring the divorce papers to their spouse so that the other party is aware of their intention.
They can then move on to the discovery phase, during which they can find out as much as they need to about the other side. They can also take a look at the financial documents of the spouse and ask them any questions that may arise.
During this period, they may also have temporary motions if they need to discuss certain issues in the short term, such as visitation rights in the case of children.
Related: Divorce with Children Involved
This is also the time when negotiation between the two parties is underway. It is important to have an attorney during this process as they can determine exactly what should happen in the divorce and will be working their way up to present the court with the final agreement. This agreement must cover each and every aspect of the divorce, including the division of assets to child support.
In an uncontested divorce, this agreement is typically reached without litigation.
Once the agreement has been reached, both parties must attend a final divorce hearing. A judge will require the reason for your divorce, which, in Illinois, is always “irreconcilable differences,” will ask you questions about the settlement agreement, and other things related to the case.
You and your ex may also be required to give brief testimonies. If the settlement terms are fair and comply with Illinois law, the judge will sign the divorce papers and your divorce will be finalized.
After that, both parties will receive a copy of the final order.
If you have more questions about uncontested divorces, you can consult Tommalieh Law in Cook County.
Divorce Filing Fee in Cook County
The divorce fees may vary from county to county. Keep in mind, the more populous the county is, the higher will be the filing fee. In Illinois, the divorce filing fee typically ranges from $210 to $320. Since Cook County is the most populous county of Illinois, its filing fee is the highest among other counties.
Related: Divorce Attorney Fees
How Long Does it Take to Finalize a Divorce in Cook County?
There is no predetermined time for a divorce to finalize in Cook County. There are a large number of factors that come into play, including but not limited to, if the couple shared any children, how many assets the couple has, and whether the divorce is contested.
When a divorce is uncontested, it will move at a much faster rate than a contested divorce as the couple does not have anything to fight over. Contested divorces take longer since the couple is unable to reach an agreement.
In Illinois, there is no waiting period required for an uncontested divorce. However, at least one member of the couple must meet the 90-day residency requirement for the state before they can file for divorce in Cook County or any other county of Illinois.
Additionally, Illinois also has a “joint simplified dissolution”, which can expedite an uncontested divorce even more. To qualify for it, the couple needs to:
- Meet Illinois’ residency requirements and fill out the divorce forms together.
- Be married for at least eight years.
- Not share any children.
- Live separately and apart from each other for six months.
- Not own a house together and have less than $10,000 in joint marital property.
- Earn less than $20,000 individually and their combined income should be less than $35,000.
- Permanently waive spousal maintenance.
- Agree to a “no contest” divorce.
Contact Our Cook County Divorce Lawyers
Even if you and your spouse agree to a “no contest” divorce in Cook County, it will still be necessary to dedicate a legal representative who will advocate on your behalf during the trial.
Our experienced divorce lawyers have years of combined experience and can provide you guidance through the divorce process in Cook County. Schedule an appointment with us today by calling us at (708) 232-0017 or contacting us online.