Divorce is unpleasant. Most people put off divorce issues…even during the divorce. In fact, financial issues can be reserved to be addressed later should the parties agree or the court determines that reserving a financial matter is appropriate.

For most cases, courts are strongly biased towards resolving every financial matter between the parties on the day of the divorce.

“The historical and practice notes [of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act] “encourage[] the court to decide all matters incident to the dissolution in a single judgment, to the fullest extent of its authority, in order to achieve finality, promote judicial economy, and avoid multiple litigations and complications which can result from the entry of partial judgments, particularly judgments which dissolve the marriage but `reserve’ remaining issues for later determination.” In re Marriage of Cohn, 93 Ill. 2d 190, 197-98 (Ill. 1982)

The parties to an Illinois divorce can agree to reserve a matter or request that the court reserve decision on the matter until a future date.

“Judgment shall not be entered unless, to the extent it has jurisdiction to do so, the court has considered, approved, reserved or made provision for the allocation of parental responsibilities, the support of any child of the marriage entitled to support, the maintenance of either spouse and the disposition of property. The court shall enter a judgment for dissolution that reserves any of these issues either upon (i) agreement of the parties, or (ii) motion of either party and a finding by the court that appropriate circumstances exist. 750 ILCS 5/401 (emphasis added).

What Can Be Reserved In An Illinois Divorce?

Financial issues are often reserved because the issues are not yet ripe for the court to appropriately determine how to divide assets or set support.

A “court [can] reserve[] jurisdiction as to the division of the proceeds as to [a party’s] pending personal injury action” In re Marriage of Toth, 224 Ill. App. 3d 43, 47 (Ill. App. Ct. 1991)

“[A] court [can] f[i]nd that if [a [arty] did develop [a] disease the amount of marital property assigned to her would not be adequate to support [that]  without assistance from [their spouse and, therefore, the court could reserve maintenance].” In re Marriage of Lord, 125 Ill. App. 3d 1, 3 (Ill. App. Ct. 1984)

“[I]t is appropriate for a court to enter a judgment for dissolution while reserving other issues where the court lacks in personam jurisdiction over the respondent.” In re Marriage of Parks, 461 NE 2d 681 – Ill: Appellate Court, 2nd Dist. 1984

A court can “make an award of maintenance for a stated period but reserve jurisdiction to modify or change the award at the end of the period.” In re Marriage of Cannon, 132 Ill. App. 3d 821, 822 (Ill. App. Ct. 1985)

Anything financial is reservable. An Illinois court can “reserve[] for future consideration the issues of maintenance, property division, and attorney fees.” In re Marriage of Leopando, 96 Ill. 2d 114, 116 (Ill. 1983)

What Cannot Be Reserved In An Illinois Divorce

While the reservation of financial issues in an Illinois divorce is very liberal, parenting time must be ordered when the judgment of dissolution of marriage is entered.

“Unless the parents present a mutually agreed written parenting plan and that plan is approved by the court, the court shall allocate parenting time.” 750 ILCS 5/602.7(b)

Oddly enough, parenting time must be decided at the time of judgment but parenting decisions can be reserved.

“Unless the parents otherwise agree in writing on an allocation of significant decision-making responsibilities, or the issue of the allocation of parental responsibilities has been reserved under Section 401, the court shall make the determination.” 750 ILCS 5/602.5(b)

But, the Supreme Court says a trial court has to (in theory) make decision about parenting time within 18 months of the divorce’s filing date.

“All allocation of parental responsibilities proceedings under this rule in the trial court shall be resolved within 18 months from the date of service of the petition or complaint to final order. In the event this time limit is not met, the trial court shall make written findings as to the reason(s) for the delay.” Illinois Supreme Court Rule 922

Divorces With Reserved Issues Are Generally Not Appealable

Only final orders are appealable in Illinois.

“The threshold question [before beginning an appeal] is whether the trial court’s order is final and[, thus,] appealable.” Trizzino v. Kline Brothers Co., 435 NE 2d 958 – Ill: Appellate Court, 3rd Dist. 1982

An order with reserved issues is not final and is, therefore, not appealable.

“[A] dissolution judgment is not final for purposes of appeal until all the ancillary issues have been resolved. Stated differently, generally only a judgment that does not reserve any issues for later determination is final and appealable.” In re Marriage of Susman, 2012 IL App (1st) 112068

Of course, every rule has an exception if the facts warrant a deviation from that rule.  

“[T]he public policy against piecemeal litigation would not be significantly impacted by granting finality to the judgment since the reservation…due to legitimate concern for the [a party] which could not be handled in any other manner and that it was unfair to delay [the other party’s] right to appeal until expiration of the reserved time….Accordingly, since the trial court resolved all issues that could have been decided at the time of judgment, and reserved jurisdiction over only the one issue which could not have been resolved at that time, there is no public policy violation in finding the judgment final and appealable.” In re Marriage of Toth, 224 Ill. App. 3d 43, 48 (Ill. App. Ct. 1991)

Sometimes it makes a lot of sense to put off an issue in a divorce. Other times, you must insist that the divorce resolve everything between you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse.

To speak with an experienced Illinois divorce attorney about what you can reserve in an Illinois divorce and what you cannot reserve, contact my Chicago, Illinois family law firm today.