How Does Fault Impact an Illinois Divorce?
Typically, blame for a marital breakdown is not black and white. Rarely is one spouse purely at fault and while the other spouse shares no part of the blame. Human relationships are much more complicated than this. There are usually countless factors that lead to a divorce.
That being said, it is important for anyone getting divorced to understand how the legal concept of fault may influence their case. In this blog, we will explore the ground for divorce in Illinois, the meaning of “no-fault divorce,” and how marital misconduct like cheating can impact a divorce case.
Illinois Grounds for Divorce in 2023
Illinois used to have fault-based grounds for divorce. However, Illinois is presently a no-fault divorce state. "Irreconcilable differences" is the only ground for divorce accepted by state courts in Illinois. This means that a spouse does not need to prove fault on the part of their soon-to-be ex-partner in order to obtain a divorce.
How to Get a No-Fault Divorce
To get a no-fault divorce in Illinois, one spouse files a petition with the court declaring that the marriage is "irretrievably broken" and that there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation. The petitioning spouse will not be expected to list the specific circumstances that led to the marriage breaking down.
The other spouse, called the respondent, will respond to the divorce petition. If that spouse believes that reconciliation is possible and that divorce is not the answer, he or she may contest the divorce.
Illinois law states that a separation period of six months or longer is proof of irreconcilable differences. So, if the other spouse disagrees with the divorce, the petitioner can prove that there are irreconcilable differences by living separately from his or her spouse for at least six months. If both spouses agree to the divorce, there is no need for a six-month separation period.
Marital Misconduct Usually Does Not Impact an Illinois Divorce
Unlike some states, Illinois courts do not typically consider marital misconduct when deciding how to divide assets and debts, award spousal maintenance, or determine child custody matters. This means that infidelity, drug abuse, or other types of marital misconduct usually do not have an impact on the outcome of a divorce.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if a spouse wasted substantial marital assets on purposes not beneficial to the marriage (such as during an affair) the court may consider this when dividing the marital estate. The court may also take into account a spouse’s domestic violence or abuse when determining custody and parenting time issues.
Contact a St. Charles Divorce Lawyer
The skilled Kane County divorce attorneys at Shaw Sanders, P.C. provide experience-backed support and representation to divorcing spouses. Our team can help you with property division, parenting time and child custody, and other divorce issues. Call our office at 630-584-5550 for a free initial consultation.