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630-472-9700Available 24/7

Grounds for Divorce in Illinois and Living Apart

Posted on in Divorce

living separate and apart, grounds for divorce, lawyer, attorneyDivorce in Illinois is governed by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). Under the current law, a person does not have to prove grounds to obtain a divorce. Illinois is now a "no-fault" divorce state.

"Fault" Grounds

Fault divorces hearken back to the past when getting a divorce was less frequently done. The law required one party to show that the other party was "guilty" of some misdeed in order to obtain a divorce. In Illinois, fault grounds included things like adultery, abandonment, and mental cruelty.

Illinois residents often wondered if there were any benefits to seeking a fault divorce. After all, if one partner causes the marital breakdown—perhaps by having an affair—then shouldn't that be reflected in the divorce?

While it may have been emotionally satisfying to have someone take the blame for a divorce, it did not affect the process or the outcome. A court simply did not have the authority to award one party more property than the other because the other spouse acted badly.

"No-Fault" Divorce

Because filing for divorce on fault grounds often served no real purpose, the law changed in 2016. Today, a no-fault divorce is the only option in Illinois.

No-fault grounds are legally referred to as “irreconcilable differences.” In these cases, the couple does not have to provide an explicit reason for the divorce. Rather, they only must agree that the marriage is "irretrievably broken," and that future attempts at reconciliation are not practical or in the best interest of the family. The law considers a separation period of six months or more to be strong proof that the couple has experienced irreconcilable differences, and therefore is entitled to a divorce. 

Living "Separate and Apart"

On its face, the law appears to mean that two spouses must live in distinctly different locations throughout the entire six months without a break to prove irreconcilable differences. But as with most legal matters, it is not always that simple. In fact, there are many well-known Illinois family law cases that define living "separate and apart." For example, in what was at the time a somewhat novel ruling, an Illinois court found that even though two spouses were living in the same house for two years (even having dinner together), they were still deemed to be living "separate and apart" for purposes of obtaining a divorce in Illinois.

Legal Help in Your Divorce

Divorce laws are very complicated, and this post only refers to one small aspect of them. It is important to understand how the laws operate and to be on top of situations in which they may change. If you are considering or are already involved in a divorce and are trying to determine how the law applies to your case, contact Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. at 630-472-9700 for a free consultation. We have an office conveniently located in Oak Brook, Illinois. We represent men and women throughout Northern Illinois. Our family law knowledge and creative solutions will help guide you in considering your options and getting a divorce.

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