A Cheap and Simple Way to be Divorced:
If you and your spouse have limited assets, limited income, no children, and you agree about the divorce, there is an inexpensive do-it-yourself divorce available in Illinois. Yet make sure you meet the qualifications considering this option.
Is there an inexpensive and simple way to be divorced?
Yes. A do-it-yourself divorce kit is available for the short-term, no children, limited-assets-and-income marriages. The Illinois Divorce Act has a “Joint Simplified Dissolution (of marriage) Procedure.” This Illinois Equal Access to Justice website provides forms for this purpose.
Who is eligible for the do-it-yourself divorce?
Parties to whom all of the following conditions apply:
- No maintenance (alimony) is being sought.
- No children.
- The requirements in the law regarding proof of irreconcilable differences are met.
- The marriage is under eight years.
- Neither party owns real estate or retirement benefits unless those retirement benefits are held only in IRAs and the combined value is less than $10,000.
- The value of the property acquired during the marriage (other than by inheritance or gift) is less than $50,000 and the combined gross annual income of both parties is less than $60,000, and neither party has a gross income in excess of $30,000.
Do I need a lawyer if my case does not fit into the “Joint Simplified Dissolution Procedure”?
Yes. If you have children and have significant debts or assets, while you are entitled to represent yourself, the consequences could be disastrous. A parallel–even a physician would not perform surgery on himself.
To save money, can a husband and wife have the same divorce lawyer?
No. In cases that you’ve heard that the parties used one lawyer, a close look will show that the lawyer actually only represented one of the parties. It is Biblical and it is true: A “no one can serve two masters.”
If my spouse has a lawyer, do I have to have a lawyer too?
No. Sometimes the parties have agreed to the basic terms of the divorce between themselves, but the agreement needs to be drafted. One party then hires the lawyer to draft a marital settlement (divorce) agreement. The agreement should be written in plain English (no legalese) so it is readily understood. The spose can hire a lawyer to review the agreement.
How can I employ a lawyer/law firm and keep the costs down?
You reduce fees by agreeing to the basic divorce terms. A lawyer, in an initial consultation, will provide recommendations. Equipped with that advice, if you and your spouse can agree to terms, the divorce can be simple and inexpensive.
Some cases involve straightforward assets and incomes and the parties agree to how to allocate parenting time. The Gitlin Law Firm has found that utilization of a paralegal in a simple-asset, simple-income case, leads to a savings of about 50% in the delivery of professional services.