Working with your soon-to-be ex-spouse on areas of contention so the two of you agree on the issues is the biggest part of how to get a quick and easy divorce. Other pieces of the puzzle include meeting residency requirements and working toward an uncontested divorce. If at least one of you lives in DuPage County and has lived in Illinois for the past 90 days, you could be divorced within as little as a month of filing, depending on the court’s schedule.
The Difference Between Contested and Uncontested Divorce
When you are after a quick and easy divorce, it is essential to understand contested versus uncontested divorces. Uncontested is the quickest way to divorce since a contested divorce can drag the process out for more than one year. What is an uncontested divorce, though?
Many divorces start contested and end uncontested. An uncontested divorce is possible regardless of the issues involved. Issues that may arise in divorce include child custody, high-value assets, high net worth, a decades-long marriage, or a joint business. The crux is that both parties agree on the issues and how to resolve them. The benefits of an uncontested divorce include the following:
- Reduces the cost of litigation fees
- Saves emotional stress and prevents a prolonged divorce
- Possible in both simple and complex scenarios
- Tends to be better for any children involved
- Empowers both spouses to have more of a say in their future, instead of giving the power to a judge
- Lawyers can still look out for your best interests
In an uncontested divorce, the parties submit a marital settlement agreement (MSA) and if there are minor children, a Parenting Allocation Judgment (PAJ), to the court. An MSA is a contract that details how you are dividing marital property, debts and support issues, such as child support and maintenance or alimony. A PAJ is a contract that details the custody agreement and parenting schedule. In the overwhelming majority of cases, judges accept the MSA and PAJ as is and approve the dissolution of marriage. It is only if the MSA is glaringly unfair or if the PAJ is clearly not in a child’s best interest that a judge might pause.
In a contested divorce, one person might oppose the divorce altogether or the parties disagree on at least one area. Attorneys or mediators typically work with the parties to come to some sort of resolution and sign the MSA and PAJ. It is possible for a contested divorce to go to trial, though. A trial can be emotionally and financially draining, and make a bad situation even worse.
How to Get a Quick and Easy Divorce
Every divorce is different, so the timeline for a divorce can vary from case to case. That said, a few common denominators pop up in quick and easy divorces.
One way to simplify the divorce process is to consult with a lawyer, regardless of whether your spouse knows divorce could be on the table. Lawyers clarify key issues for you quickly and address any concerns you have that are keeping you from acting. They can also file the relevant paperwork for you.
A huge benefit of working with divorce lawyers is that they act as a check and balance system, and their fees for uncontested divorces are low. Divorce can be an emotional, gut-wrenching process in even the best of cases. Many people make decisions that are against their best interests, often out of guilt and a desire to get everything over with as quickly as possible.
It does not take long before a divorcee regrets the decisions made in haste during the divorce process, since these decisions can become financially and emotionally costly. For example, making rash decisions can mean much less time with your children or leaving yourself virtually penniless. A quick and easy divorce should never mean a divorce where you throw everything by the wayside and rush through your case without due consideration.
Another key contributor to a simple divorce is to avoid “surprising” your spouse with divorce papers. Actions such as this can lead to more anger, grief, and combativeness than would otherwise be present. A spouse who has no idea you want a divorce and who is seemingly happy in the marriage may have a hard time processing the issues and agreeing with you on them. Both of you agree that divorce is necessary and is helpful in making it quicker and easier.
A third denominator is to remain open-minded with the goal of a quick, uncontested divorce at the front of your mind. Look at situations from your spouse’s perspective and from a position of fairness.
Divorce is not necessarily about getting everything you want, but rather what is fair for both of you and, if applicable, in the children’s best interests. If kids are in the picture, the courts default to the idea that both parents should be equally involved and have equal say. In other words, plan on a hard time getting a quick and easy split if you throw up unnecessary roadblocks for a spouse who wants equal involvement in the kids’ lives (or more involvement than you would like).
A parenting plan can be tailored to fit the desires of both parents, even giving one a majority of the time with the children, but both parents truly must be on board. They must be able to explain this to a judge and confirm they made these agreements voluntarily.
The fourth approach to a streamlined divorce is to get your paperwork and proposals in order early in the process. Compile lists of your individual and joint assets, debts, and so on, and get your financial paperwork organized. For negotiations with your spouse, know where you stand on issues such as your personal property, your debts, health insurance, spousal maintenance, college expenses, income tax filing, child support obligations, and other key issues. Doing this in advance is critical in getting a quick and easy divorce.
Joint Simplified Dissolution of Marriage
You might qualify for a Joint Simplified Dissolution of Marriage. To qualify, both you and your spouse must have irreconcilable differences, have lived separately for at least six months, been married less than eight years, and one of you must have lived in Illinois for the 90 days prior to the dissolution filing. The relationship must not involve the birth or adoption of children, and one spouse cannot currently be pregnant.
Joint annual gross income must be less than $35,000, and neither of you can own real estate. Your marital property must total less than $10,000, and both of you must give up the right to claim maintenance. Other requirements apply too, and lawyers can clarify whether you qualify.
What Causes a Divorce to Take Longer?
Knowing what causes a prolonged divorce helps you avoid one. To start with a more obvious factor, combative and uncooperative attitudes (whether from one spouse or both) make divorces take longer. A spirit of cooperation is a primary factor in streamlining a divorce. Ideally, a lack of finances would never be a reason for a divorce to take longer, hence the possibility of uncontested divorces and a Joint Simplified Dissolution of Marriage.
A lack of planning and forethought take their toll on expedited divorces. For example, it is difficult to talk with your spouse about dividing property and debts when you haven’t nailed down what all you own and owe, much less your feelings on what you would like to happen to the property and debts.
A lack of emotional acceptance of the divorce can play a role, too. If you do not want to be divorced, it makes sense you would drag your feet (or that your spouse would, if he or she is the person against the divorce). Open, transparent communication may go a long way in this area. Reassure your spouse you intend to treat him or her fairly and explain exactly how.
A history of domestic violence plays a role in some longer divorce processes. Divorce gets more nuanced and sensitive in these cases. An uncontested proceeding might be unlikely, especially if the party (or parties) with a history of violence deny it or its impact. Fear can also make some spouses indecisive, hesitant, or even too eager about the paperwork. In this vein, a lack of trust can drag out divorce even with no domestic violence present. One of the spouses may have a hard time trusting that the other is approaching the proceedings in an open, collaborative spirit.
Complex issues can also add to divorce time, although they do not prevent quick, easy, and uncontested divorces. It’s simply easier to hammer out the issues in a case where the parties were married, say, two years, have no children, and no property versus a case where they were married 23 years, have three minor children, and several pieces of property.