How to Get a Non-Contested Divorce in Illinois

By Beverly Bird

An uncontested, or non-contested, divorce is typically considered the easiest way to end your marriage. It's less stressful and less costly than a contested divorce -- plus, you can often complete it in only two weeks or so in Illinois. The most significant requirement is that you and your spouse must get along well enough to negotiate a resolution of all your issues on your own, without any involvement of the court.

An uncontested, or non-contested, divorce is typically considered the easiest way to end your marriage. It's less stressful and less costly than a contested divorce -- plus, you can often complete it in only two weeks or so in Illinois. The most significant requirement is that you and your spouse must get along well enough to negotiate a resolution of all your issues on your own, without any involvement of the court.

The Petition

The first step in any divorce action involves filing a petition for dissolution. Either you or your spouse must live in Illinois for at least 90 days before you can file. You can avoid hard feelings and the necessity to prove grounds for the divorce in the court if you file based on the no-fault ground of irreconcilable differences. If you base your divorce on other, fault grounds, the divorce becomes a contested matter. The Illinois statutes require that you live separate and apart for two years to qualify to use the no-fault ground of irreconcilable differences, but if you and your spouse are in agreement, and if you both file a statement with the court that you want to waive the two-year requirement, you can reduce the time requirement to six months.

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Service of Process

Normally, you would have to officially serve your spouse with a copy of the petition after you file it with the court, but Illinois law allows you to skip this step in an uncontested matter. Your spouse can simply file a notice called an appearance, which eliminates the need for service. The appearance acts as a non-adversarial answer to your petition. After filing, you have an active, open divorce case with the court and you can then file a marital settlement agreement, the next step to ending the marriage.

Prove-Up Hearing

Once you draft your marital settlement agreement in written form and after both you and your spouse sign it, call the court to schedule a prove-up hearing. If your divorce is uncontested, this is the only time you'll have to appear before a judge in Illinois. The judge will ask you a few questions regarding your marriage -- and you can give him a copy of your settlement agreement at this time. He might have a few more questions regarding the agreement, but if it's fair and covers all the bases, he will sign a final order of divorce.

Precautions

An uncontested divorce doesn't work for everyone, even if you and your spouse get along reasonably well and you think you can resolve all issues on your own without a trial. One aspect of a contested divorce is discovery, the process during which you and your spouse exchange information and documentation regarding all your assets and debts. If you're not absolutely sure of the extent of your marital assets and debts, you can begin your divorce as a contested matter and request discovery from your spouse. You can still sign a settlement agreement after you know with what you're dealing and for sure what property you must divide. Your matter can then proceed to a prove-up hearing rather than a divorce trial.

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What Happens if I Refuse to Sign a Separation Agreement in Virginia?

References

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Illinois No-Fault Divorce Laws

Most Illinois couples who decide to part ways use the state’s irreconcilable differences ground for divorce. Although this is not technically a no-fault rule, it is the closest thing to it that Illinois offers. If you file divorce papers on grounds of irreconcilable differences, you don’t have to accuse your spouse of fault or of doing anything wrong in order to obtain a legal end to your marriage.

Do You Have to Go to Court Before a Dissolution of Marriage Is Finalized?

The thought of having to appear in court for any reason is enough to give most people cold feet. In the case of divorce -- called dissolution in some states -- the necessity for court appearances depends on where you live and the nature of your proceedings. State laws dictate whether you must go to court and appear before a judge. The details of your divorce determine whether your appearance will be a quick formality or a long drawn-out affair.

Do You Have to Wait 6 Months Before You Can File for a Divorce in Illinois?

In some states, grounds for divorce are pretty straightforward – you have irreconcilable differences, and that's that. Illinois recognizes irreconcilable differences as a ground, but that's where the simplicity ends. A six-month rule applies in this state, although there's no waiting period if you file on fault grounds.

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