By: H. Joseph Gitlin
Q. Is there an inexpensive and simple way to be divorced?
A. Yes. A do-it-yourself divorce kit is available for the short-term, no children, limited asset-income marriage. The Illinois Divorce Act has a “Joint Simplified Dissolution (of marriage) Procedure.” This is a do-it-yourself procedure with forms which are available at the office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court at the county courthouse.
Q. Who is eligible for the do-it-yourself divorce?
A. Parties to whom all of the following conditions apply:
1. No maintenance (alimony) is being sought.
2. Grounds for divorce are irreconcilable differences. This means the parties have been separated for six months or more. Separation for six months or more does not require the parties to be living under separate roofs, but requires that they live in separate bedrooms, do not have sexual relations and have no meaningful marital communications.
3. No children.
4. The marriage is under eight years.
5. Neither party owns real estate.
6. The value of the property acquired during the marriage (other than by inheritance or gift) is less than $10,000 and the combined gross annual income of both parties is less than $35,000, and neither party has a gross income in excess of $20,000.
Q: Do I need a lawyer if my case does not fit into the “Joint Simplified Dissolution Procedure?”
A: Yes. If there are children, and if the assets or debts are significant, while you are legally able to obtain a divorce without a lawyer, the consequences could be disastrous. The parallel is that I am entitled to do brain surgery on myself.
Q: To save money, can a husband and wife have the same divorce lawyer?
A: No. A lawyer cannot represent both parties to a divorce even though you frequently hear that it is done. But, while the parties believe that a lawyer is representing both of them, a close look will show that the lawyer actually only represented one of the parties. It is Biblical and it is true: “A servant can only serve one master.”