Is Document Prep for Divorce Worth It?

Document prep can be very helpful, and in some cases, it is required. For example, in the state of Illinois, you can obtain a divorce quite easily. You only need to have established residency in the state for 90 days. In addition, the court will agree and grant a divorce in Illinois even if you have obtained paperwork online.

The state of Illinois offers do-it-yourself divorce kits that start at $29.95 and don’t require an extended wait for a final decree. The kits are user-friendly and don’t require the petitioner to pay for an expensive lawyer.

If you and your spouse have reached an agreement about all aspects of the divorce and the terms of the agreement, you can be divorced in Illinois in as short a period as 30 days.

Since Illinois is recognized as an equitable distribution state, it is essential for you and your spouse to come to a decision regarding division of property prior to filing for divorce using the Illinois divorce kit. This means the court has no say regarding division of property, alimony, or child custody when you agree on these issues. If you are unable to reach an agreement, the court will not grant divorce using the divorce kit until you do.

The following property is exempt from distribution:

  • Property that was gifted to you
  • Property you acquired after being legally separated
  • Property that has been excluded due to spousal agreement
  • Any property that was obtained before the conception of the marriage

Illinois doesn’t recognize misconduct as a reason to increase or decrease the percentage of property distribution. In addition, the spousal agreement for distribution of assets is mandatory to use the do-it-yourself divorce kit.

What Is the Difference Between Document Preparation for Divorce and a DIY Divorce Kit?

Whether you hire an attorney or file for divorce using your state’s do-it-yourself divorce kit, there is still a plethora of documents that are necessary. The following documents are required before filing for divorce:

  • Valid ID (driver’s license, state-issued ID, or passport)
  • Proof of residency in the state where you are filing
  • Copy of your marriage certificate
  • Prenuptial or postnuptial agreement if applicable
  • Birth certificates for each child, agreements concerning childcare, or copy of existing custody agreement
  • Record of earnings
  • Financial statements
  • Contracts for employment if applicable
  • Tax returns (federal and state)
  • Statement of net worth
  • Any record of savings accounts
  • Bank and investment statements
  • Appraisals of property
  • Grant deeds
  • Statements from tax assessors
  • Statements regarding the mortgage
  • Any documents regarding refinance
  • Any documents pertaining to vacation or rental property
  • Life insurance policies
  • Statements regarding pension or retirement
  • Policies on cars
  • Car registration
  • Ownership for jewelry, art, or other property of value
  • Household inventory
  • Credit cards
  • Loans
  • Medical bills
  • Copies of operating agreements for any partnerships or businesses
  • Tax returns for business or corporate entities if applicable
  • Certificates of trust
  • Power of attorney
  • Any directives for health care

While the above list is extensive, it is required whether using an attorney or filing a do-it-yourself divorce. The do-it-yourself divorce kit includes the paperwork and instructions for filing for divorce without an attorney. It will tell you just what documents you need to file with the paperwork. Most states offer the kits online.

Do Online Divorce Papers Really Work?

Online and DIY divorce kits only work if:

  • The parties agree on issues regarding the divorce.
  • They own very few assets.
  • There are no disputes regarding childcare, child custody, or childcare.
  • Your divorce doesn’t involve alimony.

There is no marital property requiring distribution.

5 Problems with DIY Divorce Kits

DIY divorce may sound like a good idea when considering the cost of hiring a divorce lawyer, but is it really a good idea? The problem is many people filing for divorce on their own have no idea what their rights are and what their entitlements are. This is why it is not a good idea for anyone who has assets such as a home or other joint monetary assets to file a DIY divorce. This is important even if you think you have a solid agreement.

Some of the disadvantages of a DIY divorce kit include:

  • There is no attorney available to help you complete the paperwork, so it is advantageous for you.
  • Your completed paperwork will not be reviewed by an attorney.
  • Learning materials and help documentation are dense and difficult to understand.
  • There is a risk you will agree to something you will regret later.
  • You may find you spend more money in the end than you would have by hiring a lawyer.


Are you searching for the lowest cost divorce solution because you are having financial problems? According to one of our expert commentators, Gennady Braginsky of James Cerbone Law Firm located in Wall, New Jersey, divorce is one of the most common reasons to file for bankruptcy. It affects financial as well as physical and emotional health.

If you would like to learn how bankruptcy can help wipe out debt and protect assets, feel free to browse our bankruptcy advice pages on The page will open in a new tab, so you don’t lose your place.

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