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No-Fault Divorce Basics in Illinois

 Posted on August 31, 2018 in Divorce

Naperville family law attorneysA couple may decide to end their marriage for any number of reasons. In some situations, the spouses may have different philosophies regarding money or parenting strategies. In other cases, one partner could have destructive tendencies such as an inclination to be unfaithful or a history of physical or emotional abuse. Regardless of what drives a wedge between married spouses, the law in Illinois only permits a divorce on the no-fault grounds of irreconcilable differences.

A Modern Approach for Modern Families

For many years, Illinois law allowed either spouse to seek a divorce on about a dozen separate grounds. All but of one these were so-called “fault grounds,” which meant that if certain negative or destructive behaviors could be proven, the guilty spouse would be “at fault” for the divorce. Fault grounds included things like infidelity, repeated abuse, abandonment, substance abuse, and others.

Prior to 1977, the at-fault spouse could effectively be punished for his or her behavior in the divorce judgment. Guilty spouses often received a smaller portion of the marital assets, as well as fewer considerations in regard to alimony. Between 1977 and 2015, a person could pursue a divorce on fault grounds, but marital misconduct was not considered when deciding on asset division, maintenance, and other details of the divorce.

On January 1, 2016, sweeping reforms to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) went into effect. The changes eliminated all fault-based grounds for divorce in the state. Today, only the no-fault grounds of irreconcilable differences are permitted when seeking a divorce. Instead of showing that your spouse cheated on you, for example, you must only show that your marriage has broken down beyond the point that it can be repaired.

No More Required Separation

When marital misconduct was eliminated as a consideration in 1977, the fault grounds hung on for the better part of 30 years. This was due largely to the fact that a fault divorce did not require a period of separation or “living separate and apart.” A no-fault divorce, on the other hand, required the spouses to live separate and apart for up to two years before the divorce would be granted. By agreement of the spouses, the separation period could be reduced to just six months, but it could not be waived completely.

The 2016 reforms addressed this issue as well by removing the separation requirement altogether. If both spouses agree to the divorce, the proceedings can begin immediately. If the spouses do not agree, however, a six-month period of living separate and apart is statutorily considered irrefutable proof of irreconcilable differences.

Call a Naperville Divorce Lawyer

If you are considering a divorce or have plans to file soon, contact a DuPage County family law attorney for guidance. We will help you review your available options, ensuring that your rights and interests are fully protected. Call 630-352-2240 for a free, confidential consultation at Pesce Law Group, P.C. today.



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