Married couples who no longer wish to be married to each other, but have come to a basic agreement on how to divide all of the marital property and debts can file and complete their divorce proceedings much more quickly than spouses who have disagreements over who should receive the assets or liabilities of the marriage, including disagreeing over custody or parenting time with the children. Couples who have been married for a short time and have no significant assets or liabilities may even be able to file for joint simplified dissolution proceedings, saving both time and money.
In Illinois, irreconcilable differences are the only grounds for dissolution of marriage, and the parties must have been separated for at least six months. The spouse filing for the divorce must have been a resident of Illinois for at least 90 days prior to filing for divorce.
The date of separation of the parties can be determined in different ways. The simplest and clearest definition of separation is the date when one spouse moved out of the shared home; however, the parties can live in the same home and still be considered separated in the eyes of the law. Other methods for determining the date of separation can include the date the parties agreed that the marriage was dead or the day following the last time the parties had marital relations.
The petition for dissolution (i.e. “divorce papers”) may be filed before the parties have been separated for six months, so long as the parties will have been separated for six months by the time the court proceedings conclude.
Joint Simplified Dissolution
A joint simplified petition for dissolution is the fastest and cheapest way to obtain a divorce in Illinois. This method is only available for couples who have only been married for a short time, have no children and few assets together, and have approximately equal financial standing. In this method, the parties are listed as co-petitioners, and both must have lived in Illinois for at least 90 days prior to filing. Both parties must be present at the final court date.
This method is not available to couples who have been married for more than 8 years, or to parties who have children together, regardless of whether the children were born before or during the marriage or if the children were adopted by the parties. The parties may have children from previous relationships.
Additionally, this method is not available to couples with a joint income above $60,000 per year before taxes are taken out. To file for joint simplified dissolution, neither party can have a yearly income above $30,000 before taxes. Couples hoping to file for joint simplified dissolution cannot own any real estate, and their total assets must be worth less than $50,000 once the value of joint debt is subtracted.
Both parties must waive their rights to receiving alimony from the other party after the divorce is final. The parties should close out any joint bank accounts and cancel any credit cards listed in both parties’ names. The parties should agree on which party should pay each debt, such as overdue rent or utilities and the balance of student loans. Finally, both parties must sign a written agreement dividing any and all assets worth more than $100.
These proceedings generally only require one filing fee and one court date, meaning the parties will only spend approximately $400, and will each only need one day off of work.
Couples who have children together, have been married for more than 8 years, earn a joint income of more than $60,000 per year, have one party earning more than $30,000 per year, or jointly own real estate or other significant property can still simplify their divorce proceedings. Couples who have drafted prenuptial and postnuptial agreements and would like to move forward with their divorce based upon their previously drafted post/prenuptial agreements can likely cut down costs by hiring one attorney to represent one party and finalize the divorce with the consent of the other party or each party may hire an attorney who understand that they will be moving forward on an uncontested basis.
Even couples who do not have a signed a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can ease the financial strain of a divorce if they can come to an agreement on the issues of child custody and financials. These couples can work with attorneys to determine which of their assets and debts are considered part of the marital estate and come to an agreement regarding who will receive each asset and pay each debt. Often, issues of debt can be resolved simply by looking at which party took on the debt. Many parties can also come to a simple agreement on the property inside the home and can agree to split the profits of a sale of the home or to have one party buy out the other’s interest in the home. Hiring attorneys can help to ensure a smooth process and a timely resolution of all major issues.
If you and your spouse are considering divorce and would like professional advice on your options or want to smooth over the process of the divorce, contact Kiswani Law at (708) 210-9247 today.