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by Abigail Van Buren

Getting Out of Marriage Is Harder Than Getting In

DEAR ABBY: I am 21 1/2 years old and was married when I was 20. I thought at the time I was doing the right thing, but now, after a year and a half of marriage, I realize it was a mistake. I was too young to get married.

My husband and I disagreed on too many things, so now we are getting a divorce. He doesn't want it, but he says if I pay for it, he will sign all the required papers. We have nothing to divide. No house, no car, no money and no kids. Nothing to fight over.

Now for my problem: I went to a legal clinic and they told me there wasn't any "no-fault divorce" in Cook County, Ill., which is where we live. This means I will have to go to court and claim "mental cruelty."

Abby, there was no mental cruelty, so why do I have to go to court and lie -- especially since my husband agreed to cooperate? Isn't there someplace that we could go and just sign some papers and be divorced? Why must I point a finger of blame at a perfectly nice man? The marriage was MY mistake.

Also, I would like to know why a divorce should cost so much? I was quoted a figure of $970. There is nothing to divide up, and my husband is not going to contest the divorce. Isn't there a cheaper and easier way? -- NOBODY'S FAULT

DEAR NOBODY'S FAULT: A cheaper divorce would be available through your legal aid society -- only if you are unemployed.

According to Dorothy B. Johnson, attorney at law and chairperson of the Chicago Bar Association Matrimonial Law Committee:

"Since July 1, 1984, there has been another ground for dissolution of marriage in Illinois, which you and your spouse may find more suitable: 'irreconcilable differences.'

"As for the cost of your divorce, the rate you were quoted is not out of line for the greater Chicago area."