Understanding No-Fault Divorce in Illinois
For many generations, a couple who sought to end their marriage in the state of Illinois could only do so based on the behavior of one spouse. In order to obtain a judgment of divorce, a petitioning spouse had to show that the other spouse was at fault for the breakdown of the marriage. Over time, however, the laws of the state were amended to reflect evolving societal values, eventually adding no-fault divorce as an option for those in unhappy and unhealthy marriages.
Fault Grounds and the Introduction of No-Fault Divorce
For much of America’s history, spouses who were unhappy in a bad marriage were essentially stuck. Of course, it was possible to get a divorce if the other partner cheated, was mentally or emotionally abusive, abandoned the family, or chronically abused drugs or alcohol, along with several other serious at-fault grounds. This meant, however, that without such behaviors, there was virtually nothing a person could do to end the marriage. Even the process of divorce was much more complicated, as the alleged fault had to be proven.
In 1984, Illinois lawmakers added the grounds of “irreconcilable differences” to the existing fault grounds for divorce. For the first time, a couple whose marriage was broken beyond repair could dissolve the union with the need for proving that one party was to blame. While no-fault divorce still required a two-year period of separation, there was, at least, a measure of hope for those who had previously felt trapped.
New for 2016
In the decades that followed, no-fault divorce quickly overtook fault-based divorce in popularity for several reasons. Among these was the reality that, in many cases, a bad marriage could be ended through a no-fault divorce before it reached the point where a spouse cheated or became abusive. Additionally, no-fault divorce was generally easier, as it required no proof of negative behavior, and both spouses could simply agree to the proceedings.
By 2015, fault-based divorce had become sufficiently rare that the Illinois legislature eliminated it altogether. Beginning January 1, 2016, a divorce in Illinois will only be granted on the no-fault grounds of irreconcilable differences. At the same time, lawmakers also removed the mandatory period of separation, so a couple in agreement regarding the divorce are no longer required to wait for an arbitrary amount of time.
Help With Your No-Fault Divorce
Despite being less complex, in most cases, than fault-based situations, a no-fault divorce can still present a number of challenges. Contact an experienced Geneva divorce attorney to learn more about how we can help simplify the process for you. Call 630-232-9700 to schedule an initial consultation at the Law Offices of Douglas B. Warlick & Associates today.