The spark has gone out of your marriage, and you and your spouse have drifted apart, but that doesn’t mean you hate each other. In fact, you still see eye-to-eye on a lot of things, including the fact that you no longer want to live together. You may be the ideal couple for an uncontested divorce.

In Illinois, couples looking to get divorced can do so in one of two ways: contested or uncontested. In a contested divorce, couples need to resolve some or all their disagreements after they file. But if you and your spouse can agree to terms on every possible issue, you may be able to write them down and file for an uncontested divorce.

You may still want an attorney

When uncontested divorce works, it’s faster and cheaper than the contested variety. It may also result in fewer conflicts and greater privacy. Your records will still be public, but they don’t need to contain as much revealing information. Since the whole process is based on your ability to agree to terms with your soon-to-be-ex, you may want to avoid hiring an attorney. That is an option. But it is likely not the best one.

Even when you and your spouse can agree to terms, there’s often value in working with an attorney. Here are three ways an attorney may steer you true—and even save you valuable time and money:

  • Make sure you are aware of your rights. Even in an uncontested divorce, the whole body of Illinois law remains in full effect. There are consequences to your decisions, and any mistakes could cause you to forfeit rights you didn’t even know you had.
  • Help you think of everything. What are the tax consequences of splitting a retirement fund early? How fair is it for one spouse to keep $150,000 in home equity and the other to keep a $150,000 stock portfolio? Experienced attorneys can help you with these issues, plus things like pet custody.
  • Review your forms to check for errors. Even in an uncontested divorce, you’ll need a judge to finalize the matter. If you make any mistakes on your forms—such as overlooking an item that causes the judge to see your divorce as somehow unfair—you might have to start all over.

In the end, you’re going to have to live with the terms of your divorce. They’ll shape your future. An attorney can offer the knowledge and experience to assure you that your choices are the right ones.

The end is a new beginning

Your divorce will close one stage of life and begin the next. You want to start on solid footing.