||Joint Simplified Dissolution of Marriage|
Commonly Known as “Simplified Divorce”
Information and Instructions
Provided by the Lake County Circuit Clerk
This information is being provided to you along with the necessary forms for filing a Joint Simplified Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. This type of dissolution procedure is not available to everyone. There are limitations on, among other items, the length of the marriage, the amount of property owned and income of the parties. You should read this information carefully to see if this procedure is available to you. Below is general information on Dissolutions of Marriage and instructions for completing the forms.
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General Information Concerning Simplified Dissolution of Marriage
A Dissolution of Marriage (commonly referred to as a divorce) is a serious legal step which should not be taken without considerable thought. If you are considering such a proceeding, you should note the following:
- It is in the best interests of each of the parties to consult attorneys regarding the dissolution of their marriage, and that the services of attorneys be obtained.
- The parties should not rely exclusively on this information. It is intended only as a guide for self-representation.
- Marriage counseling services are available in the community. The Circuit Clerk's Office can provide a list of the services available.
- If the parties waive their rights to maintenance, neither party can in the future obtain maintenance from the other.
- A Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage permanently adjudicates all financial rights arising out of your marriage, including the right to property in the name of one's spouse and maintenance or alimony. A judgment is final, and the parties waive their right to appeal, except that neither party is barred from instituting an action to set aside a final judgment for fraud, duress, accident, mistake, or other grounds at law or in equity.
- The parties to the marriage remain married persons and cannot remarry until a judgment dissolving the marriage is entered.
Who May Use the Joint Simplified Dissolution of Marriage Procedure?
To use the Joint Simplified Dissolution of Marriage procedure, the following must apply to you and your spouse.
- Irreconcilable differences have caused the irretrievable breakdown of your marriage. All efforts at reconciliation of the differences have failed and future attempts at reconciliation would not be in the best interest of you and your spouse.
- You and your spouse must have lived separate and apart for at least six months and you must be willing to waive the requirement for a two-year separation before obtaining a dissolution on the grounds of irreconcilable differences.
- You must have been married less than eight years and either you or your spouse (or both) must have lived in Illinois for at least 90 days immediately prior to filing for the dissolution.
- No children were born to or adopted by you and your spouse during your relationship and the wife is not now pregnant.
- Your joint, annual, gross income from all sources must be less than $35,000. The total value of marital property you and your spouse own, less any encumbrances (amount owed on the property, such as the amount owed on a car loan), must be less than $10,000. Neither you nor your spouse may own any real estate.
- You and your spouse each must be willing to permanently give up any right to maintenance (alimony).
- You and your spouse must have disclosed to each other all assets each of you have, and disclosed all tax returns filed during your marriage.
- You and your spouse must sign a written agreement dividing between yourselves all marital assets worth more than $100 and dividing responsibility for all debts and liabilities. You must divide the property and sign and exchange all documents (such as automobile titles, etc.) necessary to carry out the agreement before any court hearing.
- You and your spouse must waive any right you may have to a bifurcated hearing on your dissolution petition (a hearing held in two parts, one to decide the issues related to granting the dissolution and another to decide any property or other issues).
- Both you and your spouse must be present in court to obtain the Simplified Divorce.
Instructions for Completing the Forms
There are three forms which must be completed for obtaining a Joint Simplified Dissolution of Marriage. All of these forms have been drafted to be self-explanatory and as easy to complete as possible.
With all three forms, you should either type the necessary information or neatly print the information in ink. Fill out all forms completely. The Circuit Clerk’s Office will insert the number (“No.”) on the Affidavit, Petition and Judgment. Even though this is a “Joint” petition, one of the parties must be designated as “Petitioner” and the other must be designated as a “Respondent”. Traditionally, the party seeking the dissolution is the petitioner.
The “Joint Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage” and the “Joint Affidavit Regarding Separation of the Parties, Division of Property and Waiver of Bifurcated Hearing” must be signed in front of a Notary Public. You should file a copy of your written agreement dividing marital assets, debts and liabilities at the same time you file the petition.
The “Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage” need not be signed in front of a notary, but should be completed and signed by both parties (below the words “Approved as to Form and Content”) before your hearing. The judge will complete the “Entered” line and sign the judgment if the dissolution is granted.
If the wife wishes to return to her maiden name or former name, you should complete paragraphs 11 and C of the PETITION and paragraphs 11 and D of the JUDGMENT.
In addition to these three forms, the Circuit Clerk’s Office will give you a Certificate of Dissolution of Marriage which you must complete.
The fee to file for the dissolution is $255.00 payable to the Lake County Circuit Clerk, cash, money order or Discover Card only, NO PERSONAL CHECKS.
(Note: The fee is subject to change.)
You may make your own copies prior to filing or pay the Lake County Circuit Clerk $2.00 for the first copy and $.50 for each additional copy, cash, money order or Discover Card only, NO PERSONAL CHECKS.
NOTE: Other than providing this general information and these forms, circuit clerks are
prohibited by law from giving any legal advice
Preparing for your Day in Court
Your case will be heard by a judge. Each party will have a chance to tell his or her side of the story. It's important to bring your paperwork and your evidence such as photos, witnesses, bills, receipts, contracts, or anything else that will prove your case. The judge may decide the case at the time of the hearing or may reschedule your hearing to another date if both parties are not prepared.
How to Dress
Dress as though you were going to an important job interview. Shorts, bare feet, tank tops, halter tops, sandals, hats and other very casual clothing are not acceptable. You will be removed from the courtroom if you violate court dress code; this may result in an arrest warrant for failure to appear or a default of your civil case. Regardless of how you personally feel about the dress code, obey the rules. You are not in court to make a symbolic statement regarding your lifestyle.
Always arrive to court on time. If you have a 9:00 AM appearance, arrive at least twenty minutes early in order to allow for time to locate parking, clear the security checkpoint and locate the proper courtroom. In Lake County, the court is located at 18 N. County Street in Waukegan. The county parking structure is open to the public. Visitors using this lot will be charged a nominal fee. There is limited city metered parking on the street and the City of Waukegan garage is located one block north of the courthouse on County Street. Visitors using this lot will also be charged a nominal fee.
The Pace Bus provides bus service the Lake County Courthouse via the bus stops at the corner of either Sheridan Road or Genesee Street and Washington Street. For current routes and time schedules, check the Pace Bus website at: www.pacebus.com.
The Metro Union Pacific North Line provides rail service to the Waukegan Stop. For current train routes and timetables, check the Metro Union Pacific website at: www.metrarail.com. After exiting the train, walk up the hill, then go two block west to the Washington Street entrance of the Lake County Courthouse.
You and your witnesses should be quiet in court. Don't smoke or chew gum. Turn your cell phone off while in the courtroom. Do not go in and out of the courtroom while waiting for your case to be called. During your case speak clearly and loudly enough to be heard, and stay calm. Call the Judge "Your Honor." Do not interrupt the judge, the attorneys or any other party in the courtroom.
At all times you should retain a composed and attentive posture whether you are in the audience, appearing as a witness, appearing as a petitioner/plaintiff, or a respondent/defendant.
If you are entering a guilty plea, the court will inform you of your constitutional rights. You should carefully listen to the court's explanation in order to make sure you fully understand your rights and responsibilities. If you do not understand your rights, it is proper to ask the court for clarification.
It is never proper to speak, even in a whisper, with friends or other audience members while court is in session.
How Do I Get Ready For Court?
You can go to Court yourself and watch other cases before yours comes up. If you do this, you'll see how the Court works, where everybody sits and what they do and say. Plan to do this a few days or weeks before you have to go to Court. It will make you more comfortable and less nervous when you go to Court for your own case.
Where is the Court?
Nineteenth Judicial Circuit
Lake County Courthouse
18 N. County Street
Waukegan, IL 60085
The Family Division courtrooms are located on the 1st floor of the court side of the Courthouse.
Click here for maps and directions to our facilities
Suggested Web Links
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Commonly Known as “Simplified Divorce”.