What are the Grounds for Divorce in Illinois?

Are you at the point in your marriage or civil union where you are considering a divorce? You may have some questions regarding your next step; for example, under what grounds can you get a divorce. Illinois is not considered a pure no fault state, and therefore, you must have a ground for a divorce and a separation period before you can even file for a divorce. If you do not properly meet the ground and separation period, the judge may dismiss your case.

Grounds for Divorce in Illinois

In Illinois, when you file for a divorce, you must plead the grounds in your complaint.  The grounds may be:

  • Impotency;
  • Bigamy;
  • Adultery;
  • Desertion;
  • Continual drunkenness (for a period of more than two years);
  • Gross and confirmed habits from drug use (for a period of more than two years);
  • Physical and mental abuse;
  • Felony conviction;
  • Infection by spouse of a sexually transmitted disease; and/or
  • Irreconcilable differences.

If filing under fault based grounds other than irreconcilable differences, you may be able to file immediately. However, under irreconcilable differences, you must wait a separation period.

Separation Period

In Illinois, the separation period is two years. Therefore, once you and your husband decide to separate, you must wait two years before you can file for divorce. However, if both parties agree to the divorce and the irreconcilable differences, the two-year separation period can be waived by written statement and reduced to six months. During this separation period, the parties do not necessarily have to live apart, but must present themselves to the public as separated and cohabit as roommates, not as a married couple.

Additional Requirements

In addition to the separation period, parties filing for a divorce under the grounds of irreconcilable differences must show that the differences have caused an irreversible breakdown of that marriage and that all efforts have been made to reconcile and that reconciliation is impracticable and not in the best interest of the family.

Property Division

In addition, when considering which ground to file for a divorce, please note that Illinois law states that distribution of property shall be determined without regard to marital misconduct. This ultimately means that even if the court rules that your divorce is due to fault of your spouse under one of the factors above, you will not necessarily be granted any more property or support due to that fault based ruling.

If you are considering a divorce, it is imperative that you get in contact with one of our Chicago family law attorneys immediately. We can help you understand what to expect in the process, and answer any family law-related questions you may have. We have offices located in Wheaton, Warrenville, and other areas, and are prepared to serve you today.