How to proceed after filing an uncontested dissolution.
This article is based on how to navigate the Cook County, IL court system after a dissolution of marriage for an uncontested matter has already been filed.
After you have filed your dissolution materials with the clerk of court, you will be waiting for those documents to be served on your spouse. Once he or she has been accurately served, your spouse will be instructed, through the summons, to file their appearance in the domestic relations division and pay the requsite filing fee of $206. If you elected to have the sheriff serve the documents, they will file an affidavit of service. If you chose a private process service, they will provide you with an affidavit of service. In that case, you will need to make two copies of the affidavit and stamp both copies at the court. Leave one copy for the court's records.
After your spouse has filed his/her appearance, what happens next? You will need to schedule a court date or otherwise, you case will sit out in "la-la" land. There are two different ways to schedule a court date: (1) by motion, or (2) by prove up.
Getting a court date on motion is not as complicated as you may be thinking. It is not necessary to write a long motion for why you need a court date. Instead, you will simply complete a small motion sheet on the eighth floor of the domestic relations division by electing "motion." You will use the same form for a prove up hearing as well.
For a court date on motion, you are simply setting a date for both parties to go before the court and inform the judge where you are on the matter. You may want to do this if neither party has settled all of the issues in the dissolution. If you choose this method, you can get a continuance after your first court hearing to provide enough time to settle your issues.
After your first court date is set by motion, I recomment issuing and requesting a financial disclosure form to help aid the parties in negotiating and separating their assets. Once the disclosure form is returned to each party, a certificate of service should be filed with the court including the caption of your case, the date the form was submitted to the other party, the title of the form submitted to the opposing party, the name of the party the form was submitted to, and your signature. You can ask the clerk of court on the eigth floor for this form. If there are children involved, a custody disclosure form will need to be completed. I recommend having this completed document for yourself and the opposing party in hand when you appear at every court date.
Getting a court date on "prove up" is also simple. Instead of checking the box for "motion," you will check the box for prove up. Prove up means that both parties are ready to proceed with entering a judgment in their case because all the issues have been agreed upon and both parties have stipulated to the uncontested matter. If the parties are at this point, it is imperative to collect the following items:
(3) Order Prove Up
(4) Certification of Uncontested Matter
(5) Court Reporter Sheet
(6) Copy of your recently filed Petition for dissolution
(7) Copy of your Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) and/or custody/visitation agreement
(8) Financial/Custody Disclosure Form
(9) Copy of the judgment.
Let's discuss the documents. The prove up checklist is just to keep you on track. This form is informational only. There may be items listed that don't apply to your matter. If so, bypass them and make sure you have the other documents prepared before your prove up hearing date.
The uniform prove up sheet should be completed in its entirety. You only need one copy of this sheet. You need three copies of the Order on prove up, Certification, settlement agreement(s), and judgment for dissolition. Complete both the Order and Certification before you come to court. Moreover, have the disclosure form(s) available because the judge may want to review them to make sure that the division of assets are fairly split accross the board for each party.
If neither party is represented by counsel, the judge will question both parties with respect to their settlement agreement and whether they have agreed to the terms. The judge will also imform you that you cannot come back to that court or any other court to challenge the terms of the agreement. If all is well, the court will enter the order, make the settlement agreement a part of the judgment, stamp the judgment and settlement agreements, stamp the order and certification.
The clerk will give you back two copies of the documents you provided. You should keep a copy for your records and the other is for the opposing party - your newly ex-spouse. The order on prove up states that transcripts have to be order. If you were not able to waive the filing fee, you may be the party responsible for ordering those documents. Click the "transcripts" link above to review the fees for transcripts.
After this, you are finally divorced. Please keep in mind that with any legal issue, you should consult an attorney. You may have more confusing issues dealing with federal pensions and/or retirement accounts. In those situations, do not try to go through an uncontested matter alone. Consult with an attorney.
If you have any questions regarding this post and the process of filing for and navigating through an uncontested matter, call the SL DeBarros Law Firm, LLC to simplify the issue for you.
Disclosure: this is not intended to be legal advice. No attorney-client relationship attaches by you reading this post.