When it is time to bring your marriage to an end, the most efficient way of doing so is by pursuing an agreed divorce. An agreed divorce avoids the need to go to court (other than to formalize the dissolution of your marriage), and, as a result, it significantly reduces the time and costs involved.

So, what is an agreed divorce, exactly? Illinois divorce attorney Deanna J. Bowen explains:

What You Should Know About Pursuing an Agreed Divorce in Illinois

An agreed divorce is a procedure for ending your marriage amicably and without courtroom litigation. As the name suggests, when you and your spouse pursue an agreed divorce, you do so with an understanding that you are both willing to compromise to resolve your differences through an agreement rather than going to court.

To pursue an agreed divorce (which is also referred to as an uncontested divorce), you and your spouse do not need to be in complete agreement from the outset. This is relatively rare. It is also important to ensure that you do not overlook any important issues—and, even if you and your spouse think you are in complete agreement, it will still be important for you to work closely with an experienced divorce attorney.

While individual circumstances vary, the types of issues upon which you and your spouse may need to reach an agreement to pursue an uncontested divorce include:

  • Who will keep the family home and any other real estate that you own?
  • Who will keep your vehicles, furniture, artwork, and other significant assets?
  • Who will keep family heirlooms and other items with sentimental value?
  • Who will keep the family pets?
  • Which of your assets qualify as separate property (and therefore are not subject to division during the divorce process)?
  • How you will handle your retirement accounts and other investments?
  • How much child support and alimony you or your spouse will pay (if any)?
  • How you will divide and/or share time with your children after your divorce?

These are just some of the most common examples. To finalize an agreed divorce, you and your spouse must agree on all relevant issues. You will both need to make informed decisions, and you will both need to be willing to compromise to find a comprehensive and mutually agreeable solution that allows you to move forward.

Reaching an Agreement on All Aspects of Your Divorce

As mentioned above, even when both spouses are willing to pursue an agreed divorce, it is common not to be in complete agreement right away. To make informed decisions, both spouses must be aware of all of the issues they need to address, and they must take a comprehensive approach to their divorce with a bird’s eye view. How you address certain assets may impact your decision-making regarding others, and your decisions regarding child support may impact your decisions regarding alimony and child custody (or vice versa).

So, what if you and your spouse aren’t completely on the same page?

Divorcing spouses have a few options for coming to terms and finalizing an agreed divorce. These options are (i) informal negotiations, (ii) divorce mediation, and (iii) the collaborative divorce process. Oftentimes, spouses will start with informal negotiations, and they will use mediation or the collaborative divorce process as necessary to resolve specific issues that they aren’t able to resolve on their own.

  • Informal Negotiations – Once you and your spouse have a clear picture of all of the issues that are on the table in your divorce, you can work with your respective attorneys to engage in informal negotiations. These informal negotiations should involve a constructive dialogue focused on finding a mutually agreeable way to resolve each of the issues involved in your divorce. While negotiations can become tense at times, your respective attorneys should be able to help keep the process amicable and focused on your mutual desire to bring your marriage to an end without litigation.
  • Divorce Mediation – If you and your spouse aren’t able to reach an agreement on any issues through informal negotiations, you can use divorce mediation to find a path forward. In divorce mediation, you and your spouse (and your respective attorneys) will work with a neutral third-party mediator. The mediator’s role is to make sure that you both have an accurate understanding of one another’s points of view and to offer creative solutions that you haven’t previously considered.
  • The Collaborative Divorce Process – The collaborative divorce process involves engaging experts as necessary to help guide you and your spouse to an amicable resolution. For example, if you are having trouble coming up with a satisfactory custody arrangement, a social worker or psychologist may be able to help you work through the relevant considerations. Or, if your divorce involves complex financial issues, a CPA or financial planner may be able to give both of you the insights you need to feel confident in reaching a compromise.

With all three of these approaches, you and your spouse retain ultimate control over the outcome of the divorce process. No one makes decisions for you, and no one forces you to compromise on issues that are important to you. In most circumstances, when spouses agree that an amicable resolution is best, they will be able to find a way to come to terms, and this is usually done through informal negotiations. Divorce mediation and the collaborative divorce process are tools that are available if you need them—and that you don’t have to use if they aren’t necessary.

Request a Free Initial Consultation About Pursuing an Agreed Divorce

Are you interested in learning more about the process of pursuing an agreed divorce in Illinois? If so, we can help, and we invite you to get in touch. To request a free initial consultation with Gurnee, IL, divorce attorney Deanna J. Bowen, please call 847-623-4002 or submit our online request form today.