While DIY divorce is certainly allowed under Illinois law, there are numerous steps to representing yourself in court. To help you along the way, here are 10 things you must know when conducting DIY divorce.
1) You Can Represent Yourself in a DIY Divorce
In general, some parties are eligible for a “joint simplified dissolution” procedure. However, even those not eligible for a simplified procedure have the right to file a petition on their own behalf.
2) A DIY Divorce Must Still Satisfy the Requirements of the Court
When conducting DIY divorce, it is your responsibility to understand the law with respect to your situation. You must file an appearance on your own behalf. In addition, you will be required to use e-filing.
Depending on your status, you must file either a petition (petitioner) or answer (respondent). You must also prepare a Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage and you are responsible for preparing an Allocation of Parental Responsibilities and Parenting Time Judgment.
Also, you must prepare an Order for Support regarding support of minor children. Lastly, you must prepare a Certificate of Dissolution (Kane County provided here).
3) Judicial Approval Will Still Be Required for a DIY Divorce
Part of the Judge’s responsibility is to ensure that issues are adequately addressed in your written agreements, including the following:
- Jurisdiction: Parties and Marriage
- Grounds: Irreconcilable differences have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the
marriage and efforts at reconciliation have failed or future attempts at
reconciliation would be impracticable and not in the best interests of the
- Children of the Marriage (Born, Unborn and/or Adopted): This includes Minor Children (birth to 18 years old) and Adult Children (over 18 years). For Adult Children, support may be an issue in the event of disablement. In addition, post-high school educational expenses may be an issue for those in school.
- Agreements regarding parental responsibilities and parenting time must be thorough and in the child(ren)’s best interests.
- Parties must provide one another disclosure of all of their assets, income, debts and liabilities. A statewide financial affidavit is used to do so and is required by statute and local court rule.
- Financial agreements must be fair and equitable and not unconscionable.
- Agreements must be freely and voluntarily entered into.
4) Responsibilities for Children Must Be Thoroughly Addressed
The Allocation of Parental Responsibilities and Parenting Time can be outlined by creating a Parenting Plan. This covers:
- Rights and Responsibilities of Both Parents
- Responsibilities for Significant Decision Making
- Parenting Time
- Regular parenting time
- Holiday parenting time
- School breaks
- Transportation of children
- Exchange of Children
- Right of First Refusal
- Designation of Custodian
- Changing the Parenting Plan
- Resolving Disagreements (mediation)
5) Property Issues Must Be Fully Addressed
Property issues are primarily broken up into two main categories: assets and debts.
- Real Estate
- Personal Property
- Retirement/Pension accounts
- Any other type of asset (e.g. vehicles, valuables, personal property)
- Credit cards
- Any other type of debt or other financial obligations
6) Support Issues Must Be Thoroughly Addressed
Maintenance entails (spousal support, previously called alimony). There are often misconceptions about entitlement to maintenance.
In Illinois, there is a specific law regarding maintenance and a formula based upon the duration of the marriage and the respective incomes of the parties. Self-represented parties must know what the statutory requirements are and, if deviating from the statutory formula, provide a basis for doing so that will be acceptable to the court and get court approval to deviate.
Financial Support for Minor Children
Illinois is an “income shares” state when it comes to Child Support. This means that Illinois utilizes the income of both parties in order to determine support.
In Addition to Basic Child Support, Health Insurance and out of pocket medical, dental and vision
expenses are viable. Expenses related to Educational and Extra Curricular Activities, such as post-high school educational expenses (college), may also be included.
To calculate Illinois Child Support, use this calculator.
7) Self-Help Legal Resources Are Available to Self-Represented Individuals
- Illinois Legal Aid Online
- Kane County Law Library & Self Help Legal Center
- Kane County Bar Association
8) Mediation is a Resource to Help Resolve Disagreements
a. While a Judge is able to decide outstanding legal disputes between the party, there are additional procedural and evidentiary requirements in order to obtain a date and time for the Judge to hear evidence related to your case. The parties may find mediation to be a useful alternative to having a hearing with the Judge.
b. Different Types of Mediation
9) Limited Scope (A La Carte) Legal Services Are Obtainable as Needed for DIY Divorce
Limited scope representation is essentially available at any stage of the DIY divorce process. Bruckner Hernandez Legal Solutions has help clients via à la carte with:
- Legal Consultation
- Case Analysis
- Gather Facts
- Research Law
- Client Advice
- Draft Documents
- Document Review
- Hearing Preparation
- Case Management
- Court Representation
10) A Judicial Intervention Will Cap Off Your DIY Divorce Proceedings
Judicial intervention entails a review of the pleadings along with any proposed agreement. If everything is acceptable, this is followed by approval of the agreements in conjunction with resolving any remaining issues of disagreement between the parties.
Bruckner Hernandez Legal Solutions offers free consultation and limited scope services for people representing themselves. Contact us today!
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DISCLAIMER: This is an article for informational purposes only and does not replace the advice of an attorney
regarding specific details of your situation.