Contested Divorce vs. Uncontested Divorce in Illinois

Illinois recognizes “no-fault” divorce, which means a couple can file for divorce based on irreconcilable differences that have “caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.” In order to file for divorce in the state, you or your spouse must be a resident (or stationed in Illinois as a service member of the U.S. military) for a minimum of 90 days before filing for divorce. 

There are two main types of divorce in Illinois: contested divorce and uncontested divorce. A contested divorce means the couple disagrees on one or more divorce-related issues, while an uncontested divorce means the couple agrees on all matters. 

Common divorce-related terms include: 

  • Child custody and visitation 

  • Child support 

  • Alimony or spousal maintenance 

  • Property division 

  • Dividing marital debts 

  • Any other marital disputes 

Contested Divorce 

In a contested divorce, a couple is unable to reach common ground on at least one divorce-related term. Hence, if a couple cannot resolve their differences to reach a suitable agreement, then the divorce may ultimately end in court litigation before a judge. 

However, couples have an opportunity to find a solution to their issues through divorce mediation, in which an unbiased third party helps both parties discuss and resolve any issues in the divorce in several sessions. A mediator can help the couple reach an agreement and avoid taking the divorce to court. 

But if both spouses cannot come to an agreement after mediation, then the next step is court litigation. A contested divorce generally takes an average of more than one year or longer to finalize. 

Uncontested Divorce 

Couples who can work together to reach an agreement on all divorce-related issues can obtain an uncontested divorce. In fact, Illinois has a special and faster form of an uncontested divorce called a “joint simplified dissolution.” 

Couples are eligible for a joint simplified dissolution, if all the following circumstances are true: 

  • Both parties meet the residency requirements and fill out all paperwork together 

  • The divorce petition is filed based on irreconcilable differences 

  • The length of the marriage is up to eight years 

  • The couple does not share any children together 

  • Neither spouse earns over $30,000 annually (or $60,000 annually combined) 

  • The total value of your marital property is less than $50,000 

  • The combined value of IRAs is less than $10,000 

  • Both parties waive their rights to receive spousal maintenance 

  • Both parties have disclosed and exchanged all information related to marital assets and liabilities 

  • Both parties agree on property division 

An uncontested divorce is much cheaper and faster compared to a contested divorce, simply because couples avoid court litigation. However, if the spouses disagree on at least one divorce-related issue and such disagreement requires resolution, then an uncontested divorce can become contested. 

If you are interested in filing for a contested or uncontested divorce in Chicago, call the Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C. at (312) 487-2795 or fill out our online contact form today to request a free phone consultation. 

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