No one wants an expensive divorce. We get a lot of calls from people looking for low-cost options. Many wonder if they even need an attorney at all.

Illinois has something called a Joint Simplified Divorce. If you have a fairly simple situation and meet the financial requirement, you might qualify. You can get a Joint Simplified Divorce if you have been married for less than 8 years, you have no children or real estate, and you make less than $35,000/year combined. You also have to agree on everything, such as how your personal property will be divided.

Court costs include a filing fee and the cost of serving your spouse with the divorce papers. You may be able to have fees waived if you can show that you have limited financial resources.

Even if you don’t qualify for a Joint Simplified Divorce, your divorce will be more simple, and less expensive, if you and your spouse agree on everything. Don’t forget to consider child support, custody and visitation; property division; division of all assets and debts; retirement plans; and spousal maintenance (alimony). If you and your spouse don’t agree on getting a divorce in the first place, or disagree about any of the issues listed above, your divorce is considered a contested divorce. A contested divorce will take more time, and as a result, it will be more expensive.

We almost always recommend hiring a divorce attorney, especially if your spouse has an attorney. The final agreement you come to can have a significant effect on your future, not to mention the future of your children if you have any. In other words, the stakes can be high and having a lawyer gives you a better chance at a good outcome. Be especially careful – and don’t skip getting legal advice – if your situation involves significant assets, such as a retirement account (yours or your spouse’s), if you have children, if you need financial support from your spouse or if you own a business.