What Is A Joint Simplified Divorce?

What Is A Joint Simplified Divorce?

By: M. Scott Gordon

Sometimes, people decide to divorce with little fanfare, and little drama. If you and your spouse are lucky enough to be one of these couples, there is a way to divorce in Illinois that is much quicker and simpler than the standard court hearings, called a Joint Simplified Divorce. However, there are criteria you must meet in order to take advantage of this fast-track process.

The Criteria

The most important factor is that you and your spouse must have a functional relationship. There must be no bones of contention between you in order for you to be eligible for a Joint Simplified Divorce; otherwise, the divorce is not simplified, it is contested. The other criteria include:

  • Living in Illinois for at least 90 days before the filing of a petition;
  • Living apart (not necessarily geographically, but no longer living as a couple) for at least six months;
  • Consenting to equitable division of assets;
  • Waiving any rights to alimony or other maintenance;
  • Having been married for no more than eight years;
  • Neither party owns any real property; and
  • Not having any children (biological or adopted) together.
  • Total marital property of less than $10,000
  • Total joint annual income of less than $35,000, with neither spouse earning more than $20,000

All of these requirements must be met; if even one is not, you and your spouse must conduct your divorce in the standard manner.

The Process

These cases are filed in the circuit courts, though it is important to know which is the correct one before beginning. Filing in the wrong court can cause your petition to be thrown out, because you will not have met the residency requirement.

Once in the right court, you can get the appropriate forms and complete them with your spouse, including a property division agreement. One of the reasons that the court involvement in Joint Simplified Dissolutions is so relatively light is because the couple is expected to come up with an agreement on the difficult question of asset division. Any asset over $100 in value must be included in the agreement under Illinois law.

Many people are under the misapprehension that in a simplified divorce, no court appearances are necessary. However, to conclude a Joint Simplified Divorce, you and your spouse must both appear in court and provide testimony. A judge must sign off on your divorce agreement, even if the court had no input into its creation, because it must still be in accordance with public policy.

If your agreement is unconscionable, one spouse will be put in a disadvantaged position, which is counter to the stated goals of simplified divorce. The state does not want people to wind up poor and disadvantaged after divorce; it wants ex-spouses to be in similar financial situations. That said, if your agreement is deemed unconscionable by the judge, there is no punishment or penalty to follow; they will simply order you to modify it before it can be approved and signed into the court record.

Seek Experienced Legal Assistance
If you are in a position to have a Joint Simplified Divorce, you may still need the guidance of an experienced legal professional. The dedicated Chicagoland divorce attorneys at Gordon & Perlut, LLC have years of experience in divorces, having helped countless clients separate with a minimum of difficulty and drama. Contact our offices in Chicago or Skokie for a free initial consultation. We serve the entire Chicagoland area.