Grounds for Divorce

The Illinois Marriage Dissolution of Marriage Act governs how couples can seek to end their marriage. Either party can file for divorce, regardless of who caused the end of the relationship.

Grounds for divorce in Illinois

In Illinois, state law requires the person petitioning for a divorce to give evidence that one of the following has occurred:

  • The other spouse was impotent at the time of the marriage and continued to be so during the marriage.
  • The other spouse had another living husband or wife at the time of the marriage.
  • The other spouse committed adultery during the marriage.
  • The other spouse willfully deserted the marriage for a period of one year.
  • The other spouse has been a drunkard for at least two years during the marriage.
  • The other spouse has habitually abused drugs for at least two years during the marriage.
  • The other spouse threatened the safety or life of the petitioner by poison or any other lethal means.
  • The other spouse is guilty of extreme mental or physical cruelty to the petitioner.
  • The other spouse has been convicted of a felony or “other infamous crime.”
  • The other spouse infected the petitioner with a sexually transmitted disease.

No-fault divorce

Although fault-based divorce requires at least one of the reasons listed in Illinois law, no-fault divorce does not. In a no-fault divorce, spouses do not need to prove grounds for divorce. Instead, a spouse can file for divorce because of irreconcilable differences. Although historically only a few states recognized no-fault divorce, every state now has a form of no-fault divorce. In a no-fault divorce, Illinois spouses are required to prove the following:

  • They have lived apart for at least two years. This does not mean that they must live in separate homes in order to qualify. If they live as if they are separated, in a roommate-like fashion, this may be enough to satisfy the court.
  • Irreconcilable differences caused the marriage to end.
  • Previous efforts to reconcile were unsuccessful, and any future attempts would not be in the best interests of the family.

Other issues in a no-fault divorce

Even if the spouses agree to a no-fault divorce, the court still has issues to decide. The court must consider awarding spousal support if either spouse asks for it. And if there are any children born of the marriage, the court usually needs to make custody and child support arrangements before issuing the final divorce decree.

If one of the spouses dies before the divorce decree is finalized, his or her death has no affect on the divorce proceedings. The divorce proceedings will continue to go on as if the spouse is still alive. The death of a spouse will have an effect on decisions regarding child support, custody, and visitation, as well as on alimony or spousal support payments.

Illinois state law offers several situations in which a spouse can file a petition for divorce. If one spouse wishes to find fault with the other spouse, the law outlines which reasons will be allowed by the court. If a couple can also choose to file for a no-fault divorce.