A New Era of Divorce in Illinois

Posted on in Family Law

fault divorce, no-fault divorce, Illinois family lawyerWhen a married couple is no longer able to continue building a future together, divorce is sometimes the best option. The reality is that many couples do not really belong together and trying to force a relationship between the spouses is neither productive nor particularly healthy.

Several decades ago, a couple needed specified grounds, or reason, to pursue a divorce. Typically, grounds included destructive or injurious behavior on the part of one spouse, including bigamy, adultery, habitual substance abuse, and mental or physical cruelty. A divorce could also be granted on the grounds that a spouse was convicted of a felony or “other infamous crime.”

In 1984, however, the Illinois legislature finally acknowledged that, in many cases, the cumulative effect of smaller issues can drive a couple apart, with neither spouse at fault, just as much as more serious negative behaviors. No-fault divorce, or divorce citing the grounds of irreconcilable differences, was added to the law, allowing unhealthy marriages to end more easily and with less evidence.

No More Fault Grounds

Over the last 30 years, evolving social standards and minor changes in the law has led to at-fault divorce becoming all but obsolete. Thanks to provisions in the law that prohibit the consideration of marital misconduct—a fancy way of saying “it does not matter who did what”—in proceedings for spousal maintenance or property division, the primary advantage a fault divorce offered was the potential to avoid the mandatory separation period required for no-fault divorce. To many, this seemed a bit unnecessary, and in mid-2015, the state legislature passed a measure, which the governor subsequently signed, making Illinois a no-fault only state beginning in 2016.

Starting January 1, Illinois courts will only grant divorces on the grounds of irreconcilable differences, regardless of whatever other behavior may have taken place between the spouses. In order to accommodate the change, the new law also removes the mandatory separation period for a no-fault divorce. If both spouses agree to proceed with the dissolution of marriage, the process will continue without having to wait for no good reason. If they do not agree, the court will accept a 6-month separation as a proof that the marriage has broken down, and may grant the divorce anyway.

Get the Legal Help You Need

While the purpose of the new divorce law is to eliminate unnecessary delays and difficulties, the process of divorce can still be extremely complicated. If you are giving thought to ending your marriage, contact an experienced Geneva divorce attorney. Our knowledgeable team will guide you through all of the necessary considerations and help you achieve the happiness you deserve in your life. Call 630-232-9700 to schedule an appointment today at The Law Offices of Douglas B. Warlick & Associates.



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