Even though their marriages may be irretrievably broken, some divorcing couples are fortunate enough to be able to reach a complete agreement on all of the financial and child-related terms of their divorce. Although challenging to do, an uncontested divorce is often the best option for the parties and their children. It can save an enormous amount of time, money, and stress that often go hand-in-hand with the divorce process when issues are contested.
Among the issues that must be resolved and addressed for a case to be classified as “uncontested” are the division of the assets and liabilities, matters relating to allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, and matters of child and spousal support. However, resolving those issues is not always as simple as it may seem. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act requires that the court to review the settlement agreement, make findings that the agreement is not unconscionable, and that it meets all jurisdictional and statutory requirements necessary to get divorced in Illinois.
Additionally, the court will review the agreement to make sure that it does not violate public policy. For example, under Illinois law, a parent cannot waive the right to receive child support in the absence of exigent circumstances. In cases where the agreement involves child support which deviates from the statutory guideline amount, it will be necessary to prove to the court that a valid, legal reason for the deviation exists.
The attorneys at Kollias & Giese, P.C. have extensive experience identifying which issues in your case will be subject to judicial scrutiny, and ensure that your agreement is drafted in such a way as to meet all of the legal requirements for a divorce in Illinois, survive judicial scrutiny, and give meaning and effect to the terms you have discussed with your spouse.
In an uncontested divorce, the parties typically do not participate in the formal discovery process. Opting out of the discovery process entails some risk. Most attorneys will advise that providing full and complete financial disclosures to one another is an integral part of the divorce process. Failure to request information prior to the divorce will be viewed as a waiver of the right to do so once the divorce has been finalized. However, from a practical standpoint, many couples are fully aware of the extent of the household income, expenses, assets, and debts. In those cases, they may choose to avoid the formal discovery process and trust that their spouse has made a full financial disclosure.
Among the biggest advantages of obtaining an uncontested divorce is certainly the cost, which can be significantly less than that of a contested case. Another benefit of an uncontested case is the relative quickness with which the process can be completed, which can, in some cases, be as little as two weeks. Finally, uncontested divorces almost always entail less stress, anxiety, and aggravation that cases which are litigated over the course of several months, multiple court dates, and thousands of dollars.
Some people mistakenly believe that an uncontested divorce process is so simple that they need not seek the assistance and guidance of an attorney. However, financial settlement agreements are generally not modifiable, and finalizing a divorce with a poorly-drafted document can have long-lasting negative consequences. Sometimes, important issues can be overlooked. Other times, the self-prepared agreement is awkwardly worded, which can cause long term confusion or may be unenforceable. This is especially the case when children are involved, the parties own real estate, or have interest in retirement accounts. Drafting a legally-sound, enforceable marital settlement agreement or parental allocation judgment requires knowledge, skill, and experience. Further, court procedures can be intimidating and difficult to navigate. As a result, many people attempting to represent themselves in a divorce find themselves facing multiple unnecessary court appearances and failed attempts at finalizing the process.
The attorneys at Kollias & Giese, P.C. are available to assist you in determining whether your case would be classified as uncontested, and if so, the best approach for keeping it that way. Contact us to discuss the process more in detail.