It Isn’t Always Battlegrounds for Divorce

What are the Grounds for Divorce in Illinois?

The old concept that only an “innocent” spouse may file for divorce has been abandoned in Illinois.  Although Illinois still maintains the traditional “fault” grounds for divorce, it has added a “no fault” ground known as “irreconcilable differences.” Today, either spouse may file for divorce, regardless of whether one was at fault or engaged in any marital misconduct such as adultery.

Charles no fault divorce

What are the “Fault” Grounds?

The fault grounds for divorce are:

  • impotence
  • bigamy (the other spouse had a wife or husband living at the time of the marriage)
  • adultery
  • abandonment for a period of at least one year
  • alcohol abuse or drug addiction for 2 years
  • attempting to take the other spouse’s life
  • extreme and repeated physical or mental cruelty
  • a felony conviction, and
  • infecting the other spouse with a sexually transmitted disease.

In practical terms, these fault-based grounds will have little impact on the outcome of a divorce. This is because Illinois courts do not consider fault in determining how to divide property between the spouses or when setting the amount of alimony.  They may come into play, however, when courts are considering child custody and visitation matters.

If your spouse insists on filing for divorce based on one of the fault grounds, but you would prefer to avoid airing any dirty laundry in court, you can wait two years and file for a “no fault divorce.

What is a No Fault Divorce?

A no fault divorce means that neither spouse was at fault for the breakup. You will not have to prove, or be subjected to, your spouse’s claims of marital misconduct.

The no fault grounds are relatively simple and require only the following:

  • the spouses have lived separate and apart continuously for  2 years (there is some room for interpretation here)
  • irreconcilable differences have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage
  • efforts at reconciliation have failed, and
  • further attempts at reconciliation would be impracticable and not in the best interests of the family.

What Do I Do?

If you are thinking of pursuing a divorce or you are facing a divorce, you can strengthen your position by contacting an experienced family law attorney to help you trudge through the legal technicalities that will arise.

 

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