Most people decide to get married because they are in love. They want to start a life together. They believe their love will continue to grow over time but what happens when life doesn’t go as planned? You and your spouse may have discussed divorce. You may have been served with a petition for dissolution of marriage but what happens next? Here, we’ll discuss the divorce types and focus on the key benefits of an Uncontested Divorce (also known as Agreed Divorce).
What Happens Next is Really Up to You
We all have heard divorce “horror stories.” Divorces that cost a person the shirt off their back. A “contested” divorce means that the parties do not agree on the terms of the divorce. These are the cases we typically think of when we hear the word divorce. They are cases that tend to involve litigation, fighting, and arguing. If your divorce is contested, it will likely take many months or even years to resolve. It will also be costly.
Although all cases are unique and have their own set of facts, the majority of cases do not need to be litigated. Contested cases can be full of emotions. People are angry and hurt. Maybe one spouse has moved on already. Maybe one spouse cannot seem to move on. Whatever the situation may be, emotions tend to impact one’s judgment.
Illinois is a “no-fault” divorce state. The court is not interested in alleged marital misbehavior. The court is interested in the facts of the case. How long have the parties been married? What assets and debts have been acquired? The court’s job is to distribute the parties’ assets and debts fairly.
If parties are able to set their emotions to the side, then they may be able to work out an agreement and save time and money.
In an uncontested divorce, the parties agree on all terms of the divorce. They agree on how to divide money and property. They are in agreement regarding who keeps what. They agree on how to divide marital debt. If children are involved, they agree on a parenting plan.
Key Benefits of an Uncontested Divorce
Saving Time and Money
This type of divorce typically costs the parties the least amount of money. This type of divorce also typically takes less time. Many uncontested divorces are finalized in just one court date saving stress and energy.
In an uncontested divorce, the parties sign what is called a ‘Marital Settlement Agreement” or “MSA.” This document lays out the details of the parties’ agreement. The parties present this agreement to the court. If the court agrees that the document is fair, then the court will enter a judgment for dissolution of marriage that includes the agreement. This process reduces stress and fighting.
Control Over the Process and Outcomes
When your case is called for trial your future is now in the judge’s hands. The facts are the facts and the Judge will make the final decision. The court has the control to decide how things will play out in your life for years to come. It is likely that neither party will be 100% happy with the judge’s ruling.
When you decide to go forward as an agreed divorce, you and your spouse are in control. You have a plan to follow going forward that makes sense to you and that you deem is fair. If you have children, you, the parents, are deciding how the story of their childhood continues.
Deciding to Move Forward Uncontested
Some couples know from the start that they want to end the marriage on pleasant terms. These couples tend to discuss the terms of their divorce openly with each other or through their respective attorneys. In this situation, an attorney drafts the parties’ agreement into the formal document, mentioned-above. The parties review the document with their attorneys and sometimes request edits to the document. Once the document is approved by both parties the document is signed. The attorneys then secure a court date to finalize the divorce.
Many cases start out as contested and later resolve by agreement. It is typical for a case to have a few big sticking points. These are the issues that the parties just cannot seem to agree on. For example, the parties may agree that one party owes the other party maintenance, formally known as alimony, but they may not agree on what the maintenance amount should be per month. This is something that could end up being litigated. This is also something that could end up being resolved prior to a trial. A lot can be settled through negotiation, especially when you are represented by an attorney. It is very common for cases to end up moving forward as “uncontested” even though they initially started off very heated in the courtroom. Settlement can be attempted at any stage of litigation.
When emotions are high, it is hard to see clearly. Coming to terms with a marriage ending takes time but it is best to try hard to separate your emotions from the law and business side of the divorce. Always have an experienced attorney by your side to guide you through the divorce process at all stages.