Cost of Divorce in Illinois
- Average cost of a divorce in Illinois
- Key facts about cost
- How much does a divorce lawyer cost?
- How to save money on your divorce
One of the most pressing concerns for any divorcing couple is the cost. How much will you have to pay to get divorced?
While it's impossible to pinpoint an exact figure due to the unique circumstances surrounding each case, it’s helpful to know what other people are paying and the factors that contribute to a higher divorce price – some of which you may be able to control.
What’s the average price for an Illinois divorce?
The cost of divorce in Illinois could be a few thousand dollars or beyond $35,000. This wide range is due to the multiple factors that may influence your final cost, including whether your divorce is contested or uncontested, the complexity of your financial situation, the level of conflict between you and your spouse, and, if you hire one, the rate of your divorce attorney.
It's important to note that these numbers are just averages. Your cost could be lower or higher. For instance, a highly contested divorce involving substantial assets or contentious child custody issues can escalate costs significantly. Similarly, an amicable uncontested divorce where parties agree on most issues could result in a lower cost.
Key facts about the cost of divorce in Illinois
Joint Simplified Divorce
One of the most cost-effective approaches to divorce in Illinois is the Joint Simplified Divorce. However, this method is only available to couples who meet specific criteria. Among other things, you must have been married for less than eight years, have no children, own no real estate, and have a combined gross income of less than $60,000.
The major advantage of a Joint Simplified Divorce is that it eliminates the need for prolonged court procedures. Because both parties agree on asset distribution and other pertinent matters, the divorce can be finalized swiftly, thereby significantly reducing legal fees.
While a Joint Simplified Divorce can be a cost-saver, it’s not suitable for all couples. It's advisable to consult with a legal professional to understand if this is the best route for your particular circumstances.
Your relationship may impact your cost
The nature of your relationship with your spouse can significantly impact the trajectory and cost of your divorce. The more amicable and cooperative you both are, the less complicated and costly the divorce process will likely be.
On the flip side, if your relationship is fraught with conflict and disagreement, your divorce may become more complex, time-consuming, and expensive.
Cost of uncontested divorce
An uncontested divorce is one in which both parties agree on all issues concerning the separation. This includes division of property, child custody, spousal support, and other related matters. Because there's no need for lengthy court proceedings, an uncontested divorce is typically quicker and less expensive.
The costs associated with an uncontested divorce mainly include attorney fees, court filing fees, and possibly mediation costs. Your bill could range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.
Suggested: How to Divorce in Illinois without Lawyers
Cost of contested divorce
A divorce is contested when a couple who is parting ways disagrees on issues related to the split. Their disagreement requires court intervention to resolve the disputes.
Contested divorces can be considerably more expensive due to the increased legal fees, court costs, and potentially even the cost of hiring experts such as child custody evaluators or financial analysts. The cost of a contested divorce can vary widely but can easily run into tens of thousands of dollars.
Several issues can lead to a divorce being contested. Here are some of the most common:
- Division of property: Disagreements over how to divide assets and debts can quickly escalate a divorce from uncontested to contested.
- Child custody: Determining who gets custody of minor children, and what the visitation schedule will be, is often a contentious issue.
- Spousal support: If one spouse believes they're entitled to financial support from the other after the divorce, this could lead to disagreements.
- Child support: Disputes can arise over how much child support should be paid and by whom
Divorce filing fee in Illinois
In Illinois, the divorce filing fee is $337. If your spouse filed the petition, it will cost you $206 to file a response. Fees are payable when you submit your divorce papers to the court. If you’re using the services of an attorney, the filing fee is usually included in the overall cost.
It's worth noting that there may be additional costs for serving the divorce papers, especially if a sheriff's service or a private process server is required.
If you are unable to afford the filing fee, you may be eligible for a fee waiver. This is assessed based on your income and the court's discretion. It’s advisable to check with your local courthouse or legal advisor for the most accurate and current information.
How much does a divorce lawyer cost in Illinois?
The cost of hiring a divorce lawyer in Illinois depends on the complexity of your case and the reputation and experience of the attorney. On average, you can expect to pay an hourly rate between $200 to $500 for a reputable divorce attorney in Illinois. Some lawyers may also offer flat-rate services for uncontested divorces, which can range from $1,000 to $3,500.
Keep in mind that hiring a pricier lawyer doesn't always equate to a better outcome. It's crucial to find a lawyer who is familiar with family law in your area, is easily accessible, communicates well, and has a good track record with cases similar to yours.
As with any major decision, it's wise to consult with several attorneys and research their backgrounds before making a selection.
Every state offers some form of legal aid. Read our article, How to Get Free Legal Help in Your State.
How can I save money on divorce?
Making smart choices during your divorce process can help you save money and minimize financial stress. Here are some strategies to consider:
As mentioned earlier, uncontested divorces are typically less expensive than contested ones. If you and your spouse can agree on all issues concerning your separation, this could be a cost-effective option for you.
Divorce mediation involves a neutral third party who helps you and your spouse negotiate and resolve disputes. It's generally less adversarial and cheaper than traditional divorce litigation. The mediator's role is not to make decisions for you but to facilitate communication and propose solutions that are fair to both parties.
In a collaborative divorce case, both parties hire attorneys trained in collaborative law. The goal is to work together to reach a settlement without going to court. While this method may still incur attorney fees, it often results in a faster resolution, hence reducing the overall costs.