Divorce Decisions: Fault or No Fault?

Deanne Katz, Esq.

When it comes to divorce there can be a lot of blaming and finger-pointing. The law has a phrase for that too. It’s called fault divorce, but there’s also a no fault option. When people get divorced they can choose between them.

Of course, it doesn’t really apply to where you put personal blame for the divorce.

No-fault divorce is a misleading name, but it’s an important concept. Without it, people would have a much more difficult time ending a bad marriage.

Most divorces these days are filed over “irreconcilable differences” or an “irretrievably broken” marriage. That’s generally the legal box people check when it just didn’t work out.

But before no fault divorce was introduced in 1970, couples had to have a reason for the divorce and it had to be a legally acceptable one. Without that, you were stuck.

That reason could be cruelty, adultery, criminal conviction, abandonment, or inability to consummate the marriage. If couples didn’t have or couldn’t prove one of those reasons, they would have to make it up to get a divorce.

To avoid this dishonesty, lawmakers made it easier to get a divorce for any reason.

Under Illinois law, no fault is one option when it comes to getting a divorce, but traditional grounds for divorce can still be used.

That means you have the option to place legal blame if you prove it in court. But if that’s not possible, you can still get a divorce in Illinois by claiming “irretrievable breakdown” in the marriage.

The law doesn’t require you to play the blame game in court. That can make it easier to minimize blame at home as well. At the very least, it can make the process more civil.

But is doesn’t necessarily make the divorce process any simpler. Get an attorney on your side to protect you in court.

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Divorce Decisions: Fault or No Fault?