Illinois is one of many states that allow a couple to dissolve their marriage without either party being considered at fault. Of course, there are many situations in which a couple may divorce on fault grounds, but a large number of couples find themselves in a broken marriage without meeting any of the criteria necessary for an at fault divorce.
The advent of no-fault divorce in the United States began to take shape in the 1960s and 70s. At the time, a person wishing to get divorced was required to prove that something harmful was occurring in the marriage, such as infidelity, cruelty, or abuse. In cases where such things were occurring, they could be difficult to prove. In cases where such things were not occurring, it was common for individuals to lie and commit perjury to facilitate the divorce. Divorce courts and attorneys were seen to be complicit with such behavior and, therefore, drew a level of disdain from the rest of the legal community.
In 1969, California became the first state to allow for a no-fault divorce. Since then, each of the 50 states has added some form of a no-fault provision to their divorce laws. There are some who believe that no-fault divorce has contributed significantly to the rise in the divorce rate over the last four decades and there may be some truth to that idea. However, others insist that many of the divorces would have been granted anyway, but under false pretenses and with an increased level of hostility between the divorcing parties.
The no-fault addition to Illinois law took effect in 1984 and was added as an alternative to, rather than replacing, traditional fault divorce. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act‘(IMDMA), as it reads today, requires certain criteria to be met in order to be considered a no-fault divorce.
- Living Separate and Apart for Two Years: Spouses living in separate homes is the most common arrangement for divorcing couples, but is not necessarily required. They may still share the same house, but they must be able to show they live essentially as roommates rather than as a couple.
- Irreconcilable Differences and Irretrievable Breakdown: Partners are simply not able to make the marriage work. Communication is failing, cooperation is lacking, and the situation is not improving.
- Failed Reconciliation: There was at least an effort made to work things out and to get back together. Examples may include couples’ counseling or marital therapy, or repeated attempts to talk things through together.
- Continued Efforts to Reconcile Are Impractical: Fighting to a save a marriage with no hope would being to waste time and resources potentially causing unnecessary financial or emotional hardship to the family.
The two year requirement for living apart can be waived by written agreement of both parties, but must still have been the case for a minimum of six months. ‘If, for whatever reason, both spouses cannot agree, the two years will be enforced.
If you live Illinois and are considering divorce, you need representation upon which you can rely. Contact an experienced Kane County family law attorney today. We can help you understand the law and your options under law so that your rights and those of your family are best protected.