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Category: Family Law

Do You Have Grounds for Divorce in Illinois?

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Written by Olivia St. Clair Long, JD on 8.30.22

Sometimes a marriage ends for a reason, and other times two people grow apart. When things aren’t the same, you may face “irreconcilable differences” that make it impossible to live as you once did. Since Illinois is a “no-fault” state, irreconcilable differences are enough to get the divorce you need to move on with your life.

What Are Irreconcilable Differences?

You might wonder if you have grounds for divorce. The term “grounds” is a legal justification for ending a marriage. In Illinois, “irreconcilable differences” is the legal justification needed to obtain a divorce.

Irreconcilable differences mean that you and your spouse have differences that cannot be resolved. Those differences might be beliefs, values, standards of living, or other matters. You do not have to specify what type of differences you cannot resolve.

Other Grounds for Divorce in Illinois

Illinois has abolished fault-based grounds for divorce. At one time, and in many other states, you could seek a divorce based on adultery, hospitalization in a mental health institution, incarceration, or other grounds. However, these causes are no longer recognized as reasons for divorce in Illinois.

Does the Reason for Divorce Affect Alimony, Property Division, or Child Support?

Infidelity was also a significant consideration for things like spousal support. However, the court no longer makes alimony or asset division decisions based on “marital misconduct.” The court makes those decisions based on “equity” or fairness.

If your spouse did cheat on you and is still with the other person, that person may be considered when determining things like child custody and visitation. If that person is a felon, abuses alcohol or drugs, or otherwise presents a danger to your children, the court will consider that for purposes of child custody.

Residency Requirement for Divorce in Illinois

You must get divorced in the state and county where you or your spouse reside – not where you were married. Your residence within that geographic location gives a court “jurisdiction” or power over your divorce case.

To file a divorce petition in Illinois, you must be a resident. That means you must have lived within the state for at least 90 days or have the intent for Illinois to be your permanent home.

Thus, there is a 90-day waiting period to file a divorce if you have recently moved into the state. Once you have served this period, you can get a divorce immediately if there are no issues in dispute in your divorce.

Legal Separation Requirement in Illinois

You do not need a legal separation period in Illinois unless you have a contested divorce. If your spouse argues that the grounds for divorce are not satisfied, you may have to wait a six-month separation period. This is considered proof that a couple has irreconcilable differences.

Living “separate and apart” means that you do not behave as married partners any longer. It does not necessarily mean that you live in separate locations. However, if you continue to share a bed and have intimate relations, the court may not consider you to have been living separately.

How to Prove Irreconcilable Differences

If you are facing a contested divorce and your spouse challenges the grounds for your divorce, you may have to prove there are irreconcilable differences.

While you typically do not have to specify precisely what differences you have with your spouse, you may have to present evidence if they argue that you have not met the requirements for a no-fault divorce.

When you request a divorce, you must assert:

  • Irreconcilable differences led to an irreparable breakdown of your marriage
  • Attempts at reconciliation have been unsuccessful
  • Continued attempts at reconciliation would not be in the best interests of you, your spouse, and your children

Irreconcilable Differences Caused Irretrievable Breakdown of the Marriage

You may present actual differences between you and your spouse that led to dissolve your marriage vows or feelings associated with a marriage.

This may include a difference in values, morals, strong political opinions, or actions taken by either party that cannot be forgiven. Simply leaving socks on the bathroom floor is not likely to prove irreconcilable differences.

Attempts to Reconcile

You will need to show that you made efforts to reconcile with your spouse. Many couples go through therapy to learn communication skills and understand one another.

You may have talked to your clergy or involved a neutral third party to resolve your problems. Any actions you have made to maintain your marriage will offer proof of your attempt to reconcile.

Continued Attempts to Reconcile are Not in Your Best Interests

When making decisions that pertain to forcing a marriage to continue and taking actions regarding children, the court will consider the best interests of everyone involved.

While you can assert what you feel is in your best interests, the court will be very concerned about your children. If there is ongoing fighting or negative behavior from spouses, the court will likely agree that it’s not in the children’s best interests to continue attempting to reconcile.

Changes to Illinois Divorce Law in 2022

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act was first enacted in 1977 but was changed significantly in a series of amendments between 2014-2018.

Some of the changes that have been made include:

  • One party can obtain money from the other party to retain a divorce lawyer
  • A parent may seek permission from the court to relocate their residence while a divorce or child custody case is pending
  • Child support is now based on a calculation that includes both income and number of overnights with the child, instead of simply a percentage of the paying parent’s income.

Other nuances of the law can be better explained in consultation with an Evanston divorce lawyer near you.

Call a Divorce Lawyer in Evanston, IL for Help

If you have questions about your divorce, O. Long Law, LLC has answers. Our family law attorneys have helped countless clients navigate complex family law cases.

You should not face the situation alone, whether you are leaving your spouse or need a modification of child custody, child support, or spousal support (alimony).

Call us today at (847) 556-8846 or use our online contact form to reach out for a consultation.

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