Prior to 2016, there were several reasons that someone could cite in filing for divorce. Adultery, physical abuse, and mental cruelty, among others, were all grounds for divorce. However, after looking at divorce statistics in the state of Illinois over the course of several years, the Illinois legislature found that the vast majority of couples sought divorce on the basis of irreconcilable differences. So, as part of the sweeping changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act that went into effect earlier this year, irreconcilable differences are now the only permissible grounds for divorce in the state.
Irreconcilable Differences and a Faster Turnaround for Illinois Divorces
As a practical matter, the switch to irreconcilable differences as the sole grounds for divorce has little effect on how divorces are handled. Illinois has long been a “no-fault” divorce state, meaning that even if a wife alleged adultery against her husband, it did not entitle her to more property or spousal support under the law. If anything, only recognizing irreconcilable differences as grounds for divorce now streamlines the process.
There is also no requirement that the couple explain what exactly the irreconcilable differences between them are. Irreconcilable differences could include arguing, differences in how to raise children, or the couple simply living apart for too long. If it is unlikely or impractical for the couple to continue to attempt to resolve their dispute, then irreconcilable differences exist.
No More Mandatory Separation
Previously, a couple citing irreconcilable differences as the reason for a divorce had to live apart for two years before a court would grant a divorce. In certain cases, the couple could waive this requirement, and a divorce would be granted after living apart for six months. Under the new law, a couple must only live apart for six months before a divorce is entered on the grounds of irreconcilable differences if the couple is not in agreement about the divorce. A couple in agreement can obtain a divorce with no separation period.
If the couple has lived apart for at least six months, and the couple does not dispute that at least six months has passed, then the presumption is that irreconcilable differences exist. Neither party can introduce evidence to argue otherwise. If you and your spouse have not lived apart for six months, you can still file for divorce. As long as the other party does not contest the divorce, a court may still grant a divorce decree even though less time has passed. You can also file for divorce and then begin living separately. Once six months have passed, your spouse will have no grounds to contest that irreconcilable differences exist.
Contact an Experienced Illinois Divorce Attorney
Divorce is a difficult time in anyone’s life. No one goes into a marriage expecting to get a divorce, and it can be difficult to put feelings toward the other person aside even if the marriage lasted only a short time. That’s why it’s so important to work with a divorce attorney familiar with the law and procedures of the Illinois judicial system. Contact our office today to talk with an experienced DuPage County family law attorney about your case.