Joint simplified, contested and uncontested divorce

Illinois residents who are contemplating divorce may be unaware that there are different types of divorce. Divorces may be contested, uncontested or joint simplified, which expedites the divorce process but has more stringent parameters.

A joint simplified divorce is one in which both parties agree to the divorce when a marriage that has lasted less than eight years. The couple must also be childless and the spouses must earn less than $35,000 combined. In addition, the couple cannot own real estate and must have been separated six months or more before divorcing. Many couples are unable to meet the requirements for this type of divorce.

Spouses are not always in agreement about whether or not a divorce should take place. Other factors that might be challenged are disagreements about how marital assets should be divided and how debt will be handled. Questions about alimony and child support are also contested. When this happens and the divorce parameters are challenged, they may be either mediated or litigated in court.

Agreement between the spouses on important issues usually defines an uncontested divorce. In these cases, there may be consensus on where the children should live, the amount of child support and alimony and division of property. However, agreement on these and other issues does not guarantee the judge will approve an agreement. The judge has the option of altering the divorce agreement if it appears to be unfair.

An attorney may help a spouse reconcile or negotiate disagreements in a contested divorce and respond to the court if there are issues the judge finds unacceptable. An attorney may also assist in gathering information and structuring a settlement proposal that protects a spouse’s legal rights. If resolution is not possible, the attorney may litigate the divorce proceedings in court.

Source: Illinois Legal Aid, “Getting a Divorce in Illinois“, November 12, 2014