As of January 1, 2016, Illinois became a state void of fault-based grounds for divorce. Prior to the passage of Public Act 99-90, there were numerous options parties could choose when filing for divorce in Illinois. Some of the options were faults, meaning that one party’s actions lead to the dissolution of the marriage. For example, under the old system, a spouse may have listed the reason for divorce as “infidelity” or “prison confinement,” which are both considered fault-based reasons for divorce. However, even under the old system, not all divorces needed to have an at-fault party. Parties could have chosen no-fault reasons for divorce, the most common being “irreconcilable differences.”
Under the new system, any couple filing for divorce will only have one no-fault option when explaining their reason for seeking a divorce – irreconcilable differences. It’s painting with a very broad brush, as irreconcilable differences is defined as having an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage in which future efforts at reconciliation would be impracticable or not in the family’s best interest.
No Fault Divorce in Illinois
Since Illinois is a no fault state, if both parties agree that irreconcilable differences have arisen in your marriage, then there is no waiting period to enter your divorce decree. If one spouse disagrees with the assessment of irreconcilable differences, then it is not so cut and dry, and there is a waiting period before you can file. However, if one spouse is contesting the grounds of divorce, a subsection of the law states “if the parties live separate and apart for a continuous period of not less than 6 months immediately preceding the entry of the judgment dissolving the marriage, there is an irrebuttable presumption that the requirement of irreconcilable differences has been met.” Simply put, if you have been living apart from your spouse for at least 6 months, that is considered a presumption of irreconcilable differences, meaning you may be able to proceed with your divorce.
Even though Illinois has shifted to a no-fault system, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to navigate a divorce on your own. If you’d like to talk about your options, reach out to Appelman Law for answers.