Illinois Soon Entering Its Third Year as a “No-Fault” Divorce State

Posted on in Divorce

In January 2018, Illinois will begin its third year of “no-fault” divorce under state law. When spouses are considering divorce, it is important to understand this philosophical and legal principle that governs divorce in the state.

Irreconcilable Differences Are All That Is Required in a No-Fault Framework

On January 1, 2016, “irreconcilable differences” became the sole legal grounds for the dissolution of a marriage in Illinois. While irreconcilable differences could be considered possible grounds for divorce prior to 2016, they were not the sole grounds. For many years, fault-based grounds (e.g. adultery or mental cruelty) were considered relevant as well. However, this is no longer the case. Under current state law, irreconcilable differences, which speak to the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage – the point at which present or future attempts at reconciliation become impracticable and inconsistent with the best interests of the family – is all that needs to exist for a marriage to be properly dissolved in the state of Illinois.

Agreement on Irreconcilable Differences Hastens a Divorce Decree

While both spouses do not need to agree that irreconcilable differences exist for a divorce to be obtained in Illinois, agreement allows for the pre-divorce decree waiting period imposed on contested divorces to be effectively waived. In other words, if the decision to divorce is mutual, expressed via the agreement of the existence of irreconcilable differences, a decree may be properly issued without delay. However, should one spouse contest the existence of irreconcilable differences, state law will only reach the irrebuttable presumption (final conclusion) that irreconcilable differences exist and thus justify a divorce decree if the spouses have lived “separate and apart” for at least six months prior to the entry of the final divorce judgment.

Resolving Legal Issues in an Illinois Divorce

The no-fault model is intended to simplify the divorce process. While obtaining a decree may indeed be more straightforward, the resolution of the various issues that arise when dissolving a marriage may remain complex. Once irreconcilable differences have been proven, whether through agreement or the six-month period of continuous separation, spouses will need to address legal issues including the equitable distribution of marital assets and liabilities, the allocation of parental responsibility and parenting time, the calculation of child support obligations, and the amount and duration of any spousal maintenance.

The experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Nancy Kasko, LLC can work with you to reach a resolution in your divorce and help you complete the process as efficiently as possible. Contact a Wheaton divorce lawyer at 630-836-8540 to schedule a free consultation.