Grounds for Divorce In Illinois

Contemplating filing for divorce is a major decision. One that will change the lives of the parties in ways they often did not contemplate. Very few people come out of the divorce better off financially and emotionally; at least not at first. The income of the parties must now support not just one household, but two. Children must now spend time between two households and not just one. However, filing for dissolution of marriage (divorce) is very often the first step towards a better, brighter and happier future for most people.

Most people have heard of “fault” and “no-fault” divorce states. California is perhaps the best known “no-fault” state. “No-fault” states have essentially gotten rid of the requirement or the ability of parties to allege wrongdoing by the other spouse in order to obtain a judgment of dissolution of marriage (divorce). Those state’s that are “no-fault” states recognize that if one adult no longer wishes to remain married to the other then that in and of itself is good enough a reason to not force the individual to remain married to the other or make them have to allege marital misconduct on the part of the other spouse.

Illinois on the other hand is a bit of a hybrid state. In Illinois, a party can still allege fault grounds or can in the alternative allege no-fault grounds in their petition for dissolution of marriage. To help the reader better understand the options available to them, the following is a list and description of the fault and no-fault grounds in Illinois. The requirements for fault and no-fault grounds are as follows:

  1. One of the spouses was a resident of this State (or was stationed in this State while a member of the armed services, and the residence or military presence had been maintained) for 90 days preceding the commencement of the action or making of the finding of residence. (750 ILCS 401 (a)
  1. Grounds
  1. Without cause or provocation: (750 ILCS 401(a)(1))

i. Respondent was at the time of marriage and is impotent;

ii. Respondent was already married;

iii. Respondent committed adultery;

iv. Respondent deserted Petitioner for at least one year;

v. Respondent is guilty of habitual drunkenness for 2 years;

vi. Respondent is guilty of gross and confirmed habits caused by the excessive use of addictive drugs for 2 years;

vii. Respondent attempted to kill wife;

viii. Respondent is guilty of extreme and repeated physical or mental cruelty;

ix. Respondent has been convicted of a felony;

x. Respondent has infected the other with a sexually transmitted disease.

  1. No Fault: (750 ILCS 401(a)(2)

i. The parties have lived separate and apart for a continuous period of 2 years;

ii. Irreconcilable differences have caused an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage; and

iii. Efforts at reconciliation have failed or future attempts would be impracticable and not in the best interest of the family

The perceived advantage to alleging no-fault grounds is that it is thought to reduce animosity between the parties which in turn can result in a more amicable resolution of such issues as child custody, child support and the division and distribution of marital assets. Additionally, the level of proof required to “prove up” the divorce is less involved and less costly to the parties.

This article is not all-inclusive and is not a substitute for retaining the services of an experienced attorney. However, hopefully, you have been provided with a basic understanding of the various grounds for divorce.



Posted in Family Law

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