Illinois law allows a person to file for divorce for a variety of reasons. One of the most common reasons is for “irreconcilable differences.” The law refers to divorce for irreconcilable differences as a no-fault divorce, meaning that neither party caused the marriage to fail. Illinois law also recognizes a variety of grounds for fault divorce. Fault divorces assign blame for the marriage’s failure to one party, and although that will not greatly affect the outcome of the divorce, it may impact child custody decisions.
Divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences allows a couple to separate without needing to engage in a public fight over who was at fault for the marriage ending. Instead, the spouses simply acknowledge that their relationship has broken down. In order to file for a no-fault divorce like this, the couple must meet four requirements. First, the couple must live “separate and apart” for two straight years. Second, the couple must have irreconcilable differences, meaning that their relationship is not working. Third, the spouses’ attempts to heal the marriage must have failed. And fourth, any further attempts to fix the marriage would likely not succeed, and would not be good for the family.
The first requirement, living separate and apart for two years, is more complicated than it seems. Living apart does not necessarily mean living in separate places. Instead, the couple can show that they lived together, but merely as roommates for that period. Additionally, the spouses may not actually need to wait the full two years. If the couple lived apart for six months, and both of them agree in writing, then the judge can waive the remainder of the waiting period and grant the divorce.
Fault divorces are less common in Illinois, but the law still allows for them. In these cases, certain, specified types of marital misconduct can be grounds for a fault divorce. These grounds include:
- A spouse’s having multiple marriages at the same time;
- A spouse’s committing adultery;
- A spouse’s abandonment of the family for at least one year;
- A spouse’s abuse of alcohol or other addictive drugs for at least two years; and
- A spouse’s attempting murder or other physical or mental cruelty towards the other spouse.
Those considering filing for divorce should remember that even if they succeed in proving fault, that will not affect the majority of the state. Courts do not look at fault for purposes of property division or alimony. However, the fault may play into the child custody hearing if it would affect the best interests of the child.
If you are thinking about filing for divorce, contact a Chicago divorce attorney today. They can explain your options and help determine the best course of action for you.