Divorce is often described as contentious, emotional, even nasty. Yet some divorces are far removed from that generalization. Some are simple and uncontested. In these situations, you might be able to use Illinois’ Joint Simplified Dissolution.
Requirements for Joint Simplified Dissolution
While both parties agreeing to the divorce is an important first step, there are more criteria that must be met. Otherwise, you will need to proceed with a formal dissolution. An uncontested divorce means that neither spouse wants to contest any aspect of the dissolution of marriage, aka divorce. A divorce decree is generally co-written by both spouses and presented to the court.
Additional qualifying elements include:
- The residency requirement is met by at least one spouse.
- The entire marital estate is valued at $50,000 or less.
- The couple has no children.
- Neither spouse can be dependent on the other.
- Each spouse cannot make more than $30,000 per year or $60,000 collectively, before taxes.
- The marriage lasted less than eight years.
- Neither spouse owns real estate interests.
- There are no jointly held retirement benefits. The combined value of any benefits either spouse holds must be less than $10,000.
- Full disclosure has been made by both spouses.
- The presented divorce decree stipulates asset distribution.
- The agreement is equitable (a judge can modify the agreement if they find it unreasonable).
About the Process
If you meet all eligibility criteria, the process is rather simple. There are fewer, less complicated forms. You must file the Joint Simplified Dissolution in the county where you have ties, which is usually where the marital home is located. If you file your petition in the wrong court, it could be rejected entirely. There are filing fees that must be paid. If you cannot pay the fee, you can fill out an application asking the court to allow you to file your case without cost.
Forms that must be completed include the Domestic Relations Cover Sheet and Joint Petition for Simplified Dissolution.
The agreement written by you and your spouse must include how any asset valued at $100 or more is being allocated. The marriage can often be dissolved in one court appearance. Both spouses attend a final hearing for the court to accept or modify the agreement. Illinois is a no-fault state, so any marital misconduct is not considered by the courts when dividing property.
The judge will only sign off on your agreement if you have already divided the property.
Joint bank accounts should be closed, and individual accounts opened. Like a bank account, joint credit card accounts should be closed, and you should apply for separate accounts. If someone other than the person on the title is getting the car, the name on the title must be changed.
This simpler path to divorce can be advantageous, but it is important to remember a few caveats. With a Joint Simplified Dissolution of Marriage, you are giving up any future right to support from your former spouse. The approved judgment permanently settles all financial rights arising out of your marriage. The judgment is final with no right to appeal. Only fraud, duress, or other grounds could set aside the final agreement.
Experienced Divorce Counsel
If you are unsure if you qualify for a Joint Simplified Dissolution of Marriage, or have other questions about divorce, contact one of our experienced lawyers. Our skillful team at the Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C. can help prepare all the necessary paperwork and appropriately file your forms and the written agreement. We can also ensure you understand important information about your rights.
If you are considering divorce, talk to one of our experienced lawyers in a phone consultation. You can reach us at (312) 487-2795 or through our online form.