Stressful.  There is no other word to describe a divorce.  Others may include the word, awful.   And it wouldn’t be wrong at all.  When going through a divorce, the only wish is for it to end with the least amount of damage as quickly as possible.  This leaves many people wondering how they can get divorced faster in Chicago, Illinois.

A divorce happens in Illinois when a Judgment of Dissolution of Marriageis entered in the courts.

Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage

 “The parties are awarded a Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage and the bonds of matrimony existing between Petitioner and Respondent are hereby dissolved.”  This verbiage is always included in a dissolution of marriage.

Yes!  Divorced.  But, there is much more that still needs to be done.  Such as the division of property, itemizing things as non-marital or marital, and if there are children, a parenting schedule.   These items take time and a lot of discussion.  Which only adds to the “stress” of separating your life from someone else’s.

Typically, the judgment for dissolution of marriage will be very brief and then will incorporate all of these details via reference with the following language:

  1. “The Marital Settlement Agreement entered between the parties herein above set forth, a copy of which is entered simultaneously, is incorporated herein as if set forth verbatim and all of its terms and provisions are hereby expressly affirmed, approved and adopted as the order and the Judgment of this Court;
    B. The Agreed Allocation of Parental Responsibilities and Parenting Time entered between the parties herein above set forth, a copy of which is entered simultaneously, are incorporated herein as if set forth verbatim and all of its terms and provisions are hereby expressly affirmed, approved and adopted as the order and the Judgment of this Court;”

In short, yes – getting a divorce can be quick and easy.  It’s the agreements on how to go your separate ways that take the longest.  Those details are spelled out in the Marital Settlement Agreement and the Agreed Allocation of Parental Responsibilities and Parenting Time if there are children.


Social media may have you under the impression that you can get divorced and deal with the details later.  While this is true, it’s in very limited situations, such as a pending death or pregnancy.  More often than not, a Cook County judge will ensure the couple takes the necessary time to straighten out all the details before walking away for good.  However, this kind of proceeding is called a bifurcation, and like aforementioned, there must be a good cause.

Where only one of the parties wants a bifurcation and the other doesn’t, the party that wants it must petition the court and show “appropriate circumstances exist” that warrant a bifurcation.

Illinois Courts have specified that “appropriate circumstances” can arise “where the court does not have in personam jurisdiction over the respondent; where a party is unable to pay child support or maintenance if so ordered; where the court has set aside an adequate fund for child support pursuant to section 503(d) of the Act; or where the parties’ child or children do not reside with either parent.” In re Marriage of Cohn, 93 Ill. 2d 190 (1982)

That’s mostly it.  It appears that bifurcation is only allowed when the other parent has disappeared completely.

In re Marriage of Blount, 197 Ill. App. 3d 816 (1990), created a new appropriate circumstance by allowing the bifurcation of a divorce of a terminally ill wife from her abusive husband. The court made special reference to the fact that they only allowed this because both parties had separate assets and a premarital agreement that essentially resolved their financial issues without the need for the immediate entry of a Marital Settlement Agreement.

More recently, courts have found that almost any pending death can be appropriate circumstances for the bifurcation of a divorce. In re Marriage of Breashears, 2016 IL App (1st).

Why Should A Divorce Be Sped Up or Bifurcated?

In the unfortunate circumstance of fatal illnesses, couples may wish to have a bifurcation to avoid probate law.  Probate law is different, but in short, it proscribes how one’s property is distributed in the absence of a will.  While it may be good to have, most do not have a will.  And in such circumstances, the property gets distributed by the state as opposed to how the couple wants the property distributed.

Now, there are some who will take advantage of situations like that and prefer a probate proceeding over a bifurcation because they may have the advantage of gaining more.

Under Illinois divorce law, a spouse is entitled to and equitable division of the marital assets (usually half but that does not always mean equal shares)

Under Illinois probate law, if there is a no will a spouse has the right to half of ALL of the deceased spouse’s assets. If the deceased has no children, the surviving spouse will receive all of the deceased spouse’s assets.

If there is a will in Illinois, the surviving spouse can always renounce the will (if they are written out of the will) and request, instead, 1/3 of the assets pursuant to statute.

Can You Get Divorced Before Resolving All The Financial And Parenting Issues?

Illinois divorce courts allow for a divorce with reserved issues under the following conditions:
“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(b)

Where couples have come together for the Marriage Settlement Agreement, a Cook County judge still has to sign off on the agreement.  Usually, the same judge that grants the divorce is the same judge that will handle the post-judgment issues.  To save time and money, Cook County judges are more apt to resolve all the issues at the same time than to let some linger after the dissolution of the marriage.


How Do I Get Divorced Quickly in Chicago, Illinois Without Bifurcating My Divorce?

If you don’t bifurcate your divorce there are only two ways to finalize your divorce quickly: 1) come to a full settlement on all the terms or 2) take the matter to trial.

1 – This situation is for those couples who can amicably agree to separate, agree on the division of property and agree to other issues likely involved in a divorce.  Coming to a full settlement requires a good faith negotiation between you and your spouse which usually requires a full disclosure of income and assets and (more importantly) a full agreement as to all parenting matters.  While this scenario is ideal, and provides for the healthiest way to separate, it is more unlikely.  Separation tends to cause more tension.

2 – Taking a spouse to court can get ugly and costly.  Even more so, it requires a full, transparent exchange of income and assets.  For some this can be easily done by stipulating to all the facts and submitting proposed documents to the judge with those stipulations.  Issues usually arise surrounding the effects of the divorce, not so much on the facts of the divorce.  Luckily, in Cook County, you can request a pre-trial where a judge will hear the facts of your case and tell you how they will likely rule in your situation.  The parties can accept that judge’s pre-trial ruling and be done at that point.  This alleviates the need of going on to a full, time consuming and costly trial.

If you’d like to learn more about bifurcating a divorce, schedule a free consultation with an experienced Chicago divorce lawyer.

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