Divorce is awful in so many ways. It’s the end of a relationship and an unwinding process that is usually marked with animosity and hostility. What’s more, divorce is often expensive and tedious. As much as people want to actually to get a divorce they specifically want a fast and cheap divorce. So, how do you get a fast and cheap divorce in Chicago, Illinois?  You get a fast and cheap divorce by getting that divorce by agreement.

Children are rightfully the most important and sensitive topic in any divorce.  If you and your spouse have children in Chicago, Illinois you must complete, sign and enter an allocation of parenting time and parental responsibility. By initially preparing, circulating and coming to an agreement on your parenting time and parenting responsibilities, you can, hopefully, eliminate 80% of the actual, meaningful disagreements between your spouse and yourself. The financial issues can wait.

You’ll find that most parenting issues are actually logistical matters regarding who picks up the child when and where. The actual division of time hinges more on availability than it does on desire of either parent.

Preparing a detailed allocation of parenting time and parenting responsibilities is not necessary. Tendering a series of agreed bullet points is usually sufficient for an attorney to quickly input your information into a template and create an allocation of parenting time and parenting responsibilities that a court can enter and you and your former spouse can be governed by.

Failure to come to a complete agreement on these parenting issues in a divorce means that the issues will have to be resolved by a judge. That judge will make rulings based on their limited knowledge of your life as conveyed by your attorney and your spouse’s attorney. The judge will then weigh that evidence under the standard “the best interests of the child”. Truthfully, the judge will take most of their evidence from a third attorney who represents the children and is called a guardian ad litem. This third attorneys’ fees will be paid the two divorcing parties.

So, not only is an agreed divorce liable to provide better and more practical results but an agreed divorce will be unfathomably more affordable than a contested divorce.

Financial issues can also be resolved by agreement relatively easily. All assets earned and saved during the marriage will be divided equally between the two parties. These assets are referred to under Illinois law as “marital assets”

The same rule applies for debts. Debts incurred during the marriage will leave both parties equally responsible for those debts.

In an agreed divorce, marital assets are divided between the parties not by a clean fifty fifty split but rather by practical concerns that prevent liquidation of assets. For example, one party may keep the house and debts while the other party keeps the retirement accounts and other equivalent values marital assets.

Maintenance, formerly called “alimony” in Illinois, is derived by a simple formula: thirty three percent of the large earner’s income less twenty five percent of the smaller earner’s income.  The smaller earner can never receive maintenance that would allow him or her to exceed 40% of the total income of both parties combined.

The length of maintenance in a divorce is determined by a statutory formula with an accelerating length with respect to the length of the marriage.

Child support in Chicago, Illinois is similarly determined by a complicated statutory formula.

When it comes to money in a divorce, the numbers simply are what they are and there’s very little negotiating much less fighting when resolving those issues.  Bringing those issues to a judge is usually silly unless you’re trying to determine if a debt or asset is marital or not.

When hiring a lawyer in Chicago, Illinois. Let them know that you want an agreed and amicable divorce and you’re not interested in exploring every possible opportunity to get more time with your children or more money from your spouse.  Your lawyer should listen to you and do his or her best to accommodate your goals.

The author, Russell Knight, is a Chicago divorce lawyer.