If you and your spouse have decided that it’s time to end your marriage, you are not alone. Lots of marriages end in divorce; and, while some divorces come as a surprise to one spouse, it is becoming increasingly common for spouses to agree that getting a divorce is the right thing to do.
When spouses in Illinois agree that it’s time for a new beginning, they have the option of pursuing an uncontested divorce. In an uncontested divorce, the spouses agree on how to divide their assets, finances, and parenting time, and they go through a streamlined process that avoids the need for courtroom litigation. An uncontested divorce is the best approach in many circumstances, as it is both the most cost-effective and least contentious way to dissolve a marriage in Illinois.
Working Together to Prepare for an Uncontested Divorce
Preparation is one of the keys to an efficient divorce. Taking adequate steps to prepare also helps ensure that divorcing spouses do not overlook important issues during the process. We’ve previously published several resources on preparing for a divorce in Illinois, including:
- 20 Issues You Need to Consider When Preparing for a Divorce in Illinois
- 10 Mistakes to Avoid When Preparing for a Divorce in Illinois
- Checklist: Preparing for Your Illinois Divorce
Here, however, we are focusing specifically on preparing for an uncontested divorce as a couple. If you and your spouse are ready to end your marriage—and if you are ready to work together to make it happen—here are seven steps you can take to get started:
1. Collect Your Records
One of the simplest and most important steps you can take when preparing for an uncontested divorce is to collect your records. This includes bank account statements, property deeds, mortgages, car loans, tax returns, birth certificates, and any other records you may have related to your finances, property, or children. These records will all play an important role in the divorce process, and collecting them at the outset will help ensure that you don’t overlook any important property-related or financial considerations along the way.
2. Talk About the Future
Ultimately, preparing for a divorce is about planning for the future. With this in mind, now that you and your spouse are ready to get divorced, you should talk about your respective priorities and needs going forward. Will you (or your spouse) need financial support to maintain your current standard of living? Do you currently own anything that you can’t live without? Do you want to parent separately, or are you interested in coparenting or bird’s nest custody? These are all important questions to consider as you move forward.
3. Identify Any Areas of Disagreement
Even when spouses are ready to end their marriage (and willing to work together in order to do so), it is not uncommon for them to disagree about how certain matters should be handled. If you and your spouse can’t agree on everything right away, that’s okay—and it’s completely normal. You can still pursue an uncontested divorce.
For now, you can simply acknowledge any areas of disagreement. Try to avoid letting your disagreements lead to contentious disputes; and, at this stage, neither of you should simply concede for the sake of moving forward. Your divorce lawyer can help you consider options that you and your spouse haven’t considered on your own, and there is a good chance that your lawyer will be able to find a solution that works for both of you.
4. Consider Your Children’s “Best Interests”
While spouses have the flexibility they need to come up with a mutually agreeable resolution on all aspects of their divorce, there are some important limitations to keep in mind. One of the most important limitations applies to spouses with minor children. If you and your spouse will need to address parenting time during your divorce, then you will need to make all parenting time decisions with your children’s best interests in mind.
The Illinois legislature has come up with a set of “best interests” factors that divorcing parents must consider during the divorce process. While you and your spouse still can—and should—talk about your respective wants and needs regarding parenting time, you will want to consider Illinois’s “best interests” factors as well. Your parenting time plan will be subject to court approval, and the judge will be looking to see whether your plan reflects your children’s “best interests” (as defined by Illinois law).
5. Take Detailed Notes
As you and your spouse work through your divorce preparations, you should take detailed notes. There is a lot to keep track of, and it is easy to start feeling overwhelmed. By taking notes along the way, you can keep yourselves organized, keep track of the decisions you’ve already made, and make sure you are prepared to have efficient and productive discussions with your divorce lawyer.
6. Avoid the Sales Pitch of the “Online” Divorce
Many couples that are interested in pursuing an uncontested divorce also have questions about the “online” divorce process. Unfortunately, this is largely a myth perpetrated by companies that try to sell “DIY divorce kits” online. In Illinois, it is not possible to get divorced online, and it is important that you work with an experienced divorce lawyer who can help ensure that you fully and finally bring your marriage to an end.
7. Schedule a Free Initial Divorce Consultation
Once you have taken these initial steps to prepare, it’s time to speak with a divorce lawyer about filing for an uncontested divorce. While some law firms charge for their first meeting, we offer free initial consultations to divorcing spouses in Illinois. This provides you with a risk-free opportunity to learn more about your next steps and decide if we are the right firm for you.
Schedule a Free Initial Divorce Consultation in Gurnee, IL
Would you like to speak with a lawyer about pursuing an uncontested divorce in Illinois? If so, we invite you to get in touch. To schedule a free initial consultation with Gurnee, IL uncontested divorce lawyer Deanna J. Bowen, please call 847-623-4002 or request an appointment online today.