By Attorney Michael S. Fritz, Partner at Hall & Rustom, LLC

Unfortunately for some, their marriages have deteriorated to such an extent that neither person can seemingly decide on a single issue – except for the fact that they each WANT A DIVORCE.  But not every divorce needs to be the knock- down, drag- out fight they hear about from their friends.  In fact, the most time efficient, cost effective method of divorce is the “Uncontested” or agreed divorce.  In an uncontested divorce, couples are able to combine their financial resources, as opposed to against each other, in an effort to pay for legal costs and attorney fees associated with the dissolution of marriage process.

Due to conflict of interests, a single attorney should not represent both parties in the divorce but will represent and advise either the husband or wife through the entire process.  The parties will negotiate and agree on the terms of the divorce outside the presence of that attorney and the attorney will then draft the corresponding documentation pursuant to the directions given to him by his client (of which both parties negotiated).  After the documents are drafted, the unrepresented party has the option to hire his/her own attorney to review and explain the documentation to ensure that the terms and meanings were drafted pursuant to the understanding of the parties.
The uncontested divorce process is essentially comprised of 3 to 4 stages/documents which are as follows: 
1) The Petition for Dissolution and Answer /or Entry of Appearance
2) The Marital Settlement Agreement
3) The Parenting Agreement (if child custody is applicable)
4) The Judgment for Dissolution  
The Petition for Dissolution – is the legal complaint that is filed with the court that initiates the legal proceeding.   It contains factual allegations setting forth the names of the husband and wife, the names of the children (if any), the date and county the parties reside and were married and the legal reason as to why the parties are seeking a dissolution of marriage.  The responding party files what is called an “Entry of Appearance” or “Answer to the Petition”.  In an uncontested divorce, this document is signed and entered by the other party and acts as his/her consent to the jurisdiction of the court.  Once these documents are filed, the responding husband/wife may never attend a court proceeding if he/she so wish not to attend.
Once the Petition for Dissolution and Entry of Appearance (otherwise called the pleadings) are filed with the court, the parties then create a contract called the Marital Settlement Agreement.  This contract will govern the distribution of marital assets and debts such as: the house, the cars, checkings/savings accounts, credit card debts, mortgage, etc.  In some cases this document will also include a provision for maintenance (aka alimony), if the parties agree and the facts merit such allowance.
The next document is called the Parenting Agreement (if applicable).  This document governs the terms of the child custody arrangement between the parties.  This document sets forth such things as parenting times each parent has with the children, who makes the medical decisions, educational decisions with the children, and child support and insurance coverage.  If the parties are unable to determine the custody issue on their own then Illinois mandates that the parties go to mediation with a neutral third party (usually an attorney or retired judge) to hash out the terms of their agreement.
The Judgment for Dissolution is the final order that dissolves the bonds of marriage between the parties.  The Judgment for Dissolution also incorporates the terms of both the Marital Settlement Agreement and Parenting Agreement making the terms of each court enforceable contracts.  It may also include a provision that gives the wife her maiden name. 

Whereas contested divorces can take many months or even years to complete, uncontested divorces may only take weeks, even days to complete from start to finish.  In most cases, only one court appearance is needed after these documents are executed.    The length of the time of the process usually depends on the cooperation between the parties and the availability of court time

It commonly is assumed to simply “go it alone” on, what appears to be, simple family matters.  You should always consult an attorney to determine what appropriate measures can be taken to protect your best interests.  At Hall & Rustom, LLC, we strive to think five moves ahead to protect not only your present interests, but your future interests.  To schedule a free consultation, email attorney Michael Fritz or call (309) 699-4691 to set an appointment. 

If you have further questions, please visit our website at and complete our online submission form. Or, you can call our office at 309-699-4691 or email us at

Michael Fritz is a partner at Hall & Rustom, LLC and concentrates his law practice in Family law with great emphasis on Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, and College Expenses.  He also concentrates in Estate Planning & Administration, and School Law.

If you have a legal question, email Michael Fritz.



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The attorneys at Hall & Rustom LLC represent clients throughout the entire state of Illinois, including, but not limited to, the cities of Peoria, Morton, Washington, Pekin, Eureka, East Peoria, Dunlap, Metamora, Bartonville, Bloomington, Normal and any legal matter located in Peoria County, Tazewell County, Woodford County, Marshall County, Stark County, Henry County, Knox County and McLean County.