Jonathan Merel

Grounds for Divorce in Illinois

When a husband or wife makes the decision to file for divorce, there are several protocols they must follow. One of the initial steps an individual must take in order to file for divorce in Illinois is to file a Petition for the Dissolution for Marriage. In this document, the petitioner must outline the grounds for divorce. There are two primary categories to establish grounds for divorce: irreconcilable differences and fault grounds.

Irreconcilable Differences

"Irreconcilable differences" have become somewhat synonymous with Hollywood nuptials. You may often hear the term on the news and in media outlets when discussing celebrity divorces (at least those that are more amicable). Irreconcilable differences are essentially “no fault” divorce cases where both parties agree that all resources have been exhausted in their attempts to amend the marriage but to no avail. The union cannot be reconciled and it is impractical and not in the best interest of the family unit to continue the relationship.

When couples state irreconcilable differences as the grounds for divorce they must live separate and apart for two years before the case will be finalized. However, if both parties want the divorce, and it is a non-contested case, the couple may sign a “Stipulation and Waiver of Two Year Waiting Period,” stipulating that both parties have lived a minimum of six months apart before finalizing the divorce. It is important to note that even though the law states, ‘living separate and apart’ it does not necessarily mean physically apart.

Fault-Based Divorce in IL

Fault grounds for divorce are a bit more specific in the criteria and must be proven in the court of law. Even if fault grounds are proven, a judge cannot consider the marital misconduct of a spouse when dividing up marital property or award maintenance.

Illinois identifies 10 main “fault” grounds for divorce:

  1. Adultery
  2. Infection of a sexually transmitted disease
  3. Extreme and repeated physical or mental cruelty
  4. Alcohol/drug addiction
  5. Impotency
  6. Felony conviction
  7. Willful desertion
  8. Bigamy
  9. An attempt to kill the other spouse by poison or other means showing malice

When a party alleges any of the aforementioned fault grounds for divorce, they must prove to the court his or her spouse is guilty of the allegation. When an individual files for divorce and alleges fault grounds for divorce, the two year waiting period does not apply.

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