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Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce in Illinois

Judith Trentman Wilson, Attorney at Law, P.C. July 15, 2019

When spouses have a contested divorce, they may be at odds on child custody, child support, property division or countless other aspects of ending a marriage.

Even if you do not agree with your spouse on one or more issues, however, you can still achieve an uncontested divorce in Illinois to save both time and money.

What Is a Contested Divorce?

In a contested divorce, the parties are unable to reach an agreement on the relevant issues even after mediation and negotiation. In this case, each spouse retains his or her own lawyer and litigation ensues. A judge establishes the legally binding divorce agreement in the courtroom, a process that is both lengthy and costly.

How Does an Uncontested Divorce Work?

Even if you do not agree with your former spouse on certain issues, you may be able to reach a divorce agreement without going to court. Options for an uncontested divorce in Illinois include the following:

  • Joint simplified divorce for a couple married fewer than eight years with no children: The couple must not own joint real estate or shared property worth more than $10,000, must earn less than $35,000 annually and must live apart for six months before filing.

  • Lack of Application and Answer: One spouse files a petition for divorce in Illinois and the other spouse does not respond with the state’s Application and Answer form. The court proceeds with uncontested divorce based on the information in the petition.

  • Mediation: A neutral party helps spouses come to a divorce agreement. The attorneys of each spouse will also participate in this process.

A contested divorce can last up to 18 months. If you have concerns about the cost, consider working with your former spouse and his or her attorney to come to an agreement without litigation.