What is an Uncontested Divorce?
Unfortunately, there are many negative connotations when it comes to the word “divorce.” Maybe you have personally went through a divorce in the past or maybe you know someone who has. When people think of divorce, it is not uncommon for them to also think of words like fighting, arguing, lawyers, judges, money, time, etc. However, not every marriage ends on bad terms and many people are able to resolve their issues with very little court involvement. An uncontested divorce means that both parties agree to all of the terms of the divorce. For example, they agree on the division of marital property and the division of marital debt. In cases involving minor children, they agree on the allocation of decision-making responsibilities and parenting time. In most cases, this saves time and money. These parties usually sign documents known as Marital Settlement Agreements and Allocation Judgments/Parenting Agreements. It is typical when these parties only appear before a Judge on one court date, which is when the Judgment for Dissolution is entered.
Should I Get a Lawyer for an Uncontested Divorce?
We represent many clients in uncontested divorces in Chicago. Some couples may have already agreed on the terms of their divorce before reaching out to our office. In those cases, we draft the settlement agreement in the proper format, address any important missing terms and work on the fine details of the agreement.
Other people come to us and their only agreement, at that time, is that they both want to end their marriage. In those cases, we work with our clients to figure out what they agree to and we negotiate those terms.
Keep in mind that in an uncontested divorce, our law firm can only represent one of the spouses. The other party either has to hire their own attorney or represent themselves “pro-se”.
Can I Still Get an Uncontested Divorce During the COVID-19 Pandemic?
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been many temporary and permanent changes to court systems around the country. Here in Illinois, many counties conduct court electronically through the Zoom video platform. Currently, most divorce cases in Cook County, Lake County, and DuPage County are heard exclusively on Zoom, except when the Court may set a hearing or trial in person. In Kankakee County and Will County, most cases are now being heard in person with some specific, court-approved exceptions.
Despite this change to court appearances, if you have an uncontested divorce case, you are still able to get divorced in a timely manner. In fact, an uncontested divorce completed via remote video proceedings can sometimes be even quicker and easier than an in-person court appearance might take. Cases are completed quicker when appearing on Zoom as there is usually less wait time, and the parties and attorneys are not required to travel to appear in court. This saves time and money for all those involved.
How Long Does an Uncontested Divorce Take?
An attorney cannot guarantee how long an uncontested case will take, but on average, they can take anywhere from three months to a year, with the longer cases usually involving minor children. The duration of an uncontested divorce case depends on how long you and your spouse take to reach a final, signed agreement on all issues, and can also depend on the judge that your case has been assigned to.
The length of an uncontested case can be dependent on the judge because a court date is needed to finalize the divorce, whether in person or on Zoom, and the judge’s caseload will dictate when a final date is available. Sometimes it is only a few days until the next available court date, and other times it could be several weeks.
Once the final settlement documents have been signed by you and your spouse, for an electronic Zoom appearance, their documents are sent via email to the court before your scheduled court appearance for the Judge to review and approve. Your final divorce judgment is then emailed to you or your attorney.
An uncontested divorce case, despite being shorter and less litigious, can still be complicated by getting the necessary paperwork together and ready for the judge in an electronic zoom appearance. If you are interested in moving forward with an uncontested case, we recommend that you speak to an experienced attorney, not only for a review of the settlement paperwork but to make the electronic court process less stressful.
Consult a Divorce Attorney Before Pursuing an Uncontested Divorce
If you are interested in moving forward with an uncontested divorce, it is highly recommended that you first speak to an experienced divorce attorney, especially before signing any documents, to ensure that the terms you agree to are accurately reflected in the paperwork to be presented to the Court.
THIS ARTICLE WAS PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED AT: https://illinoislawforyou.com/divorce/what-is-an-uncontested-divorce/