Knowing the Grounds for Divorce – Part 2


It is simply a reality of modern life that marriages sometimes fail. Couples who marry with the best intentions often find themselves facing a divorce when, for whatever reason, the relationship breaks down. In many cases, there is not just a single underlying cause for the divorce, but the combination of numerous smaller issues. Like most states, Illinois law has provisions in place to allow for divorce in such a situation without assigning fault to either spouse.

While this may cover a large number of divorce cases, there are other situations when the law may grant a divorce based on the recognition of one spouse being responsible for the irrevocable breakdown of the marriage. The state of Illinois recognizes the following as fault grounds for divorce:


The spouse filing for divorce (petitioner) can prove the other spouse (respondent) has committed adultery. Adultery is typically defined as sexual activity with any other person, and must have occurred after the couple got married.


The respondent has intentionally left the household without a justified reason or an intention to return. Military service or job-related absences are not usually considered as abandonment. Illinois requires the desertion to last at least one year to qualify as grounds for divorce.

Domestic Abuse

One spouse is no longer able to remain in the marriage due to “repeated mental or physical cruelty” by their partner. The petitioner should be able to provide proof that actions such as physical violence, rage, and verbal or psychological abuse represent a pattern of behavior rather than isolated incidents.

Substance Abuse

Habitual drunkenness or excessive use of addictive drugs for longer than 2 years constitutes fault grounds for divorce. Illinois law defines excessive use as a person using an addictive drug to such a point that it “becomes a controlling or a dominant purpose of his life.”

Other Fault Grounds

Less commonly, Illinois law may grant a divorce for reasons related to impotence/infertility, conviction of a felony or infamous crime, transmission of a sexually transmitted disease, or the discovery that one spouse was still legally married to another person when entering the marriage.

Every case is unique, whether on fault grounds for divorce or no-fault, and you may have questions about your situation. If you are considering divorce in Illinois, contact an experienced DuPage County divorce attorney. We can help you understand the requirements of the law and assist you through the divorce process.