how does an uncontested divorce work

Illinois Uncontested Divorce Explained

Video by Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Article written by Illinois & Iowa Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
October 28, 2019
what is an uncontested divorce in Illinois?

In this article, we will explain uncontested divorce in Illinois, including “what is an uncontested divorce in Illinois?” and “what is the difference between uncontested divorce and joint simplified divorce in Illinois?” We will also explain how uncontested divorce relates to collaborative divorce, cooperative divorce and family mediation.

What is an Uncontested Divorce in Illinois?

An uncontested divorce is simply a divorce in which the parties agree on all of the issues surrounding the divorce without the need for extensive negotiation or litigation.  The parties to an uncontested divorce will freely exchange information without discovery or depositions.  The parties will work together to draft and execute a Marital Settlement Agreement that will resolve issues of:

The parties will also work together to draft and execute a Joint Parenting Agreement to resolve issues of allocation of parenting time and responsibility.  

With all of these issues resolved at the outset, the parties can usually effectuate their divorce without multiple court appearances; without depositions or written discovery; and without litigation, motion practice or evidentiary hearings.  This significantly reduces the length of the divorce, the legal fees required, and the stress on everyone involved.

What is the Difference Between an Uncontested Divorce and a Joint Simplified Divorce?

A joint simplified divorce is an expedited divorce available to people who meet certain statutory requirements.  We discussed the eligibility requirements for joint simplified divorce in detail in our previous article, but the gist is that to qualify for a joint simplified divorce the marriage must have been less than 8 years, there must not be any children involved, and the couple must not own any significant assets.  

If the couple meets the requirements for a joint simplified divorce, no service of summons is required, the couple is required to file fewer forms with the court, and the forms that are required are simpler than in a traditional contested or uncontested divorce.

Uncontested Divorce, Cooperative Divorce, Collaborative Divorce, and Family Mediation

As stated above, an uncontested divorce is possible when the parties agree on all issues.  However, there is certainly a middle ground that exists between an uncontested divorce and litigation if the parties do not initially agree on all of the issues surrounding the divorce.  

In a Cooperative Divorce or a Collaborative Divorce, the parties are not necessarily starting from a place in which they agree on all issues, but they wish to resolve the issues through negotiation and without litigating them in court.  In these cases, the parties and their attorneys agree in writing to use good faith efforts to freely exchange information and work to negotiate a marital settlement agreement and joint parenting agreement outside of court.  The differences between Cooperative Divorce and Collaborative Divorce are discussed in detail in our previous article.  

In a Family Mediation, the parties and their attorneys work through a neutral third party mediator to assist them in resolving any difficult issues out of court.  Family mediation can be initiated if the parties and their attorneys fail to resolve all issues on their own through a Cooperative or Collaborative Divorce, but still wish to avoid the stress and costs of litigation.  


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