Illinois is Now a Pure No Fault Divorce State
On January 1, 2016, Illinois became a pure no fault state provided the parties lived separately for six months prior to the divorce.
I heard that Illinois is a “no fault” divorce state. What does this mean?
The technical answer is that “irreconcilable differences have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and the court determines that efforts at reconciliation have failed or that future attempts at reconciliation would be impracticable and not in the best interests of the family.”
Are there any other grounds that can be alleged in Illinois to get a divorce?
No. All other grounds including mental cruelty and adultery disappeared from Illinois divorce law.
What does it take to obtain a no fault, or irreconcilable differences, divorce?
Previously the law had required the parties to live separately for either six months or two years. This changed. The new law provides that if the parties live separate and apart for a continuous period of not less than six months immediately before the divorce, there is an “irrebuttable presumption that the requirement of irreconcilable differences has been met.”
So, what is an irrebuttable presumption?
Basically, that means that if one is living separately for at least six months continuously before the divorce, it is impossible to contest grounds. So long as the parties meet the required six month separation, there is no need to provide proof of the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage or that efforts of reconciliation failed, etc.
Are grounds for legal separation different than grounds for divorce?
No. As of January 1, 2016, the provision in the law that legal separation was only granted without fault on behalf of the petitioner was eliminated.
What about existing cases where grounds have been alleged?
As of January 1, 2016, existing fault based grounds should be amended to allege irreconcilable differences. It appears likely that as of that date one can no longer get divorced under the traditional “grounds.”