One of the easiest ways to divorce in Illinois, if you and your spouse can pull it off, is an uncontested divorce. This simply means that both of you agree to the divorce and neither of you takes the other to court to let the judge resolve matters such as property division, maintenance and child custody and support.
Among the requirements for an uncontested divorce is six months of living separately. This proves to the judge that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. Here is what you can do with that six months to prepare for your uncontested divorce.
1. Inventory your assets and debts
You will have to create a detailed inventory of both marital and separate assets and debts to reach a fair property division agreement. This may involve having a professional valuation of some assets. Once you have this list, you and your spouse can negotiate what you each believe is fair. If you can agree, then you do not need the judge to decide.
2. Determine whether one spouse needs maintenance
The purpose of maintenance is to make sure each spouse has adequate income and earning capacity to achieve the same standard of living you both enjoyed as a married couple. So, for example, if you know that your spouse will need job training before he or she can become self-supporting, you may want to address that in the property division negotiations, or you may agree to pay maintenance until the training is complete and your spouse is independent.
3. Child custody and support
When determining how you and your spouse will divide the parental rights and responsibilities, be realistic. Consider your work schedule and when you can spend the most quality time with your children. If you are the one who performs basic caregiving duties such as doctor and dentist appointments, parent-teacher meetings, homework and extracurricular activities, point this out to your spouse. Ask whether he or she honestly wants to take over some of these tasks, or if the children would be better off spending down-time with that parent and living primarily with you.
Child support has a formula that involves income and custody, so after you have the other matters ironed out, this may be much less challenging.
You and your spouse may have difficulty talking calmly about anything. However, saving time and money and keeping decisions between you may be enough incentive to do what it takes to avoid litigation.