Getting a divorce in Illinois sounds like a long and arduous process. Illinois is not known for having an efficient legal bureaucracy. So, getting a quick divorce in Illinois sounds impossible…but it doesn’t have to be.
There are many ways to get a quick divorce in Illinois and avoid the rigors of a long drawn out divorce process that almost everyone is familiar with.
Uncontested divorce in Illinois
If you and your spouse are in agreement, you have what’s called an uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce is one where there are no issues which need to be negotiated, mediated or litigated.
But, if you two people are getting divorced, it is likely that their days of agreeing on things are over. Moreover, what issues even need to be agreed on exactly?
The solution to this is simple. One party needs to prepare all of the proposed final documents at the very beginning of the case. There may be a lot of “fill in the blanks” for some sections where you don’t know facts (like a 401k balance) or other issues that remain undecided (like a holiday schedule with the kids). But, having a proposed final Marital Settlement Agreement and/or a proposed final Agreed Allocation of Parenting Time and Parenting Responsibilities at least gets you to the point where you can identify the points of disagreement and work from there.
Even the most contested issues can usually get traded away once both parties realize how close to “the finish line” the divorcing parties really are. Moreover, children’s issues often get resolved first by agreement (people love their kids) and the removal of children’s issues often allows divorcing parties to think clearly about the remaining financial issues in the divorce.
So, one party’s lawyers should always draw up proposed final divorce documents at the beginning of the case in the hopes of a quick settlement in divorce. Those final divorce documents will have to be prepared at some point in the case so the final divorce documents might as well be prepared immediately.
Virtually every quick divorce in Illinois is, essentially, an uncontested divorce.
Mediation In An Illinois Divorce
In an Illinois divorce, mediation is mandatory if there are issues regarding the children’s schedule and the parents decision making.
In an Illinois divorce, mediation is optional regarding financial issues.
Mediation in an Illinois divorce does not require the presence of the attorneys. Merely the time of the mediator (who is usually a family law attorney). Mediators can often see divorcing parties as soon as the week after they schedule. For an excellent and affordable Chicago, Illinois mediator, I recommend attorney and mediator Stephanie Capps.
The divorcing parties can attend a mediation session with the mediator and the mediator can prepare a list of agreed issues and issues which remain in disagreement. The divorcing parties’ lawyers can then use that list to prepare proposed final documents.
Mediators usually charge a lower hourly rate than the average Illinois divorce attorney so this ends up being an extremely cost-effective strategy.
So, mediation can eliminate a lot of issues in an Illinois divorce very quickly.
Reservation Of Unresolved Issues In An Illinois Divorce
If an issue exists that the two parties cannot come to agreement on, that issue does not need to be resolved right away. The parties can agree to simply reserve the matter if the decision can feasibly be put off into the future when the divorcing parties lives become calmer and their futures become clearer.
This is very common in determining where young children will eventually attend kindergarten. A child’s kindergarten school will determine where the child will be living (and with who) for the next 13 years so this decision is monumental. So, if parties are divorcing and have a child who is 4 or under, I often recommend reserving the location of the child’s school until the child turns four whereupon the now-divorced parties can enter into mediation regarding this one singular issue.
Judges are not big fans of reserving anything in an Illinois divorce. If the parties are still not in agreement when the reserved issue finally becomes ripe, the parties must return to court and resolve the matter…usually in front of the same judge who allowed the issue to be reserved.
Post-judgment litigation is typically extremely unpleasant because the parties enmity towards each other has usually only increased (if the enmity decreased, the parties would just agree and not be in court). So, judges are not thrilled to see a case return to their courtroom.
Pretrial in An Illinois Divorce
In Illinois, either party can request a pretrial conference with their divorce judge. A divorce judge will usually allow a pretrial conference if the parties have completed discovery.
At a pretrial conference, the lawyers will explain to the judge what they believe they can prove and the judge will make a recommendation based on those representations. This recommendation is unlikely to change if the parties divorce lawyers actually present evidence to the judge in a trial, so it’s in the interests of resolving a divorce quickly to accept the judge’s recommendations.
Stipulations In An Illinois Divorce Trial
If there is a matter in an Illinois divorce that cannot be resolved via negotiation, mediation, reservation or pretrial, the divorce lawyers can simply stipulate to all of the agreed facts in the divorce case and present those facts to the judge. The judge will then make a ruling based on those facts.
This stipulation removes the arduous task of presenting each piece of evidence to the judge in a divorce trial like you see in the movies. For example, “At this point, I’d like to submit exhibit A into evidence.”
So, stipulations can speed up an Illinois divorce trial.
Default Divorce in Illinois
Often a divorce case in Illinois will slow down simply because the other party won’t respond in a timely manner. If the other party is not being responsive, the moving party in the divorce can simply ask the judge for permission to hold the non-responsive party in default.
Upon holding the non-responsive party in default, the judge can enter the divorce on reasonable terms as proposed by the moving party.
Illinois Divorce And Trial
When all else fails, ask for a trial. A trial is a presentment of evidence also known as “proofs”. An Illinois divorce court must enter final divorce documents within 60 days of the end of trial. “A judgment of dissolution of marriage or of legal separation or of declaration of invalidity of marriage shall be entered within 60 days of the closing of proofs” 750 ILCS 5/413(a)
What Slows Down An Illinois Divorce
Discovery slows down an Illinois divorce. Each divorcing party has the right to ask the other party for documents, records and proofs of anything that is remotely relevant to the pending divorce and which the other party has access to.
If the other party does not have access to a requested document, the requesting party can subpoena whomever is holding that document (usually a bank or financial institution). A subpoena is a court-empowered request where the third party must respond or possibly face sanctions from the court.
These discovery requests can go on forever because they always reveal something in addition. At some point, if the parties want to have a quick divorce in Illinois, they are going to have to say “discovery is complete”
The number one way to get a quick divorce in Illinois is to hire an attorney. An attorney will know the process and, in addition, will now how to expedite the process whether you are agreed or not. If you’d like to get a quick divorce in Illinois, please contact my Chicago, Illinois family law firm and my team will immediately lay out a strategy to resolve your case.