The Basics of No-Fault Divorce in Illinois

There are many reasons that a couple may decide to end their marriage. In some cases, the spouses may disagree on financial issues or parenting strategies. In others, one partner may be guilty of negative or destructive behavior such as mental or physical cruelty or infidelity. No matter what drives a married couple apart, however, the state of Illinois will only grant a divorce on the no-fault grounds of irreconcilable differences.

Recent Changes to the Law

For decades, the law in Illinois permitted a spouse to pursue a divorce on more than a dozen different grounds. All but one were considered fault grounds, meaning that proving such behavior on the part of one spouse would result in the responsibility for the divorce being assigned to the offending party. Fault grounds for divorce included such things as marital infidelity, repeated cycles of abuse, patterns of drug use or alcohol dependency, abandonment. and more.

Beginning January 1, 2016, however, Illinois lawmakers eliminated all fault grounds for divorce. Today, a divorce will only be granted on the no-fault grounds of irreconcilable differences. Specifically, the filing spouse must show that irreconcilable differences have led the breakdown of the marriage and that reconciliation is not possible or reasonable.

Separation Prior to Divorce

The other major change to Illinois divorce law addressed the requirement for living separate and apart before a no-fault divorce could be granted. Under the old law, a couple seeking no-fault divorce was required to live separate and apart for two years prior to a divorce. If both spouses agreed, the separation period could be reduced to six months. There was not a way to eliminate the requirement completely.

Under the new law, there is no longer a requirement for a divorcing couple to live separate and apart for any length of time. Once the petition for dissolution of marriage is filed, the proceedings may continue immediately. If the spouses do not agree that the marriage is beyond repair, however, the court will accept a six-month period of living separate and apart as proof that the marriage has broken down.

Get the Help You Need

If you are considering filing for divorce in the near future, it is important for you to understand the law and your available options. Contact an experienced Wheaton divorce attorney and get help with your unique situation. Call 630-904-3033 for a confidential consultation at Abear Law Offices today.