Organizing for Your Uncontested Divorce

April 29, 2024

While the decision to divorce is emotionally difficult, choosing an uncontested path can make the process less adversarial. However, even the most amicable uncontested divorce requires careful preparation and organization. Step two is all about getting your ducks in a row – getting organized for your uncontested divorce. This includes reviewing essential paperwork, documenting assets, and if children are involved, thoughtfully planning how you’ll co-parent after the separation.


Why Organizing for Your Uncontested Divorce is Important


Think of your uncontested divorce settlement as a puzzle. You and your spouse need to fit the pieces together to form a complete picture of your finances and, where applicable, a parenting plan. The more organized you are, the easier it is to:


  • Negotiate Fairly: Knowing the actual value of your assets prevents undervaluing or overvaluing what you or your spouse are entitled to.


  • Minimize Conflicts: With complete information readily available, there’s less room for arguments stemming from misunderstandings or suspicions about hidden assets.


  • Speed Up the Process: Illinois courts want to see that couples seeking an uncontested divorce have a clear agreement. Organization and clarity make the court’s job easier, leading to quicker approval of your divorce.

Your Financial Checklist


  • Tax Returns: At least the last three years of joint tax returns provide a solid foundation of income, assets, deductions, and tax liabilities.


  • Bank Statements: Gather at least 12 months of statements for all checking, savings, and investment accounts – both individual and shared.


  • Debts and Loans: Compile a detailed list including credit cards, student loans, car loans, mortgages, personal loans, and any outstanding medical bills. For each debt, note the creditor, balance, interest rate, and minimum monthly payment.


  • Retirement Accounts: Statements for all 401(k)s, IRAs, pensions, etc., are essential, especially as dividing retirement assets can be complex.


  • Real Estate: Deeds, current mortgage statements, recent appraisals, and property tax bills are key if you own property.


  • Vehicles: List the year, make, model, approximate value (using resources like Kelley Blue Book), and payoff amounts for any loans.


  • Investments: Stocks, bonds, mutual funds – document these with statements and current values.


  • Business Ownership: Valuations may require a professional, but have all documentation on hand if a business is involved.


  • Personal Property: This is a broad category, but consider dividing items like jewelry, collections, artwork, furniture, or special tools.


Parenting Plans: Beyond the Financial


If you have children, step two is about more than balance sheets. Open discussions and careful planning around these areas contribute to a smoother co-parenting journey:


  • Schedules and Routines: Map out your children’s daily lives in detail: bedtimes, school preparation, activities, meals, etc. Be realistic about who can handle which tasks.


  • Decision-Making: Clarify who will make decisions, or whether you’ll decide jointly, on issues like healthcare, education, travel, religion, and extracurricular activities.


  • Communication: How will you handle communication about your kids? A shared calendar app, email, a designated notebook – whatever works, set it up early.


Tips for Staying on Track and Organizing for Your Uncontested Divorce


  • Shared Digital Folder: Services like Dropbox or Google Drive allow both of you to upload documents, reducing misunderstandings due to missing paperwork.


  • Spreadsheets: Track assets, debts, and proposed parenting schedules in spreadsheets. Their clarity helps you visualize what a fair and workable agreement looks like.


  • Be Proactive: Don’t wait for questions to arise – gather any paperwork you think might be relevant, even if you’re not sure why you’d need it.


Once you have spent the time doing the hard work, let me finish the legal details by using my 20+ years of experience. You will find my prices reasonable to handle turning your work into your divorce. Reach out to my office to schedule a time to chat.


This blog post is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice.