Is Illinois now a “no-fault” divorce state?

Going through divorce is difficult enough without having to prove nasty charges against your spouse, so it is fortunate that Illinois has finally become a no-fault state and changed the grounds for divorce.  As of January 1, 2016, the revised Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) has made irreconcilable differences the only grounds for divorce in our state, and the residency requirement is now just 90 days. You no longer have to prove fault for the breakdown of your marriage or that you have been separated for a long period of time.

Although previously you could still divorce for irreconcilable differences, there were also 10 “fault” grounds for divorce.  These included grounds like adultery, alienation of affection, and habitual drunkenness, and the most common ground — mental cruelty.  Not only did having to prove such grounds make divorce that much more stressful for all parties, but there was an unfair sexist slant.

In addition, in an attempt to make things more equal for both parents, the IMDMA has made changes to child custody and visitation terminology and law.  Instead of talking about custody and visitation, the law now uses the terms “allocation of parenting time” and “allocation of parental responsibilities.”

The experienced and compassionate Illinois family-law attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. know the intricacies of Illinois divorce law and its changes, and we understand the difficulties of going through divorce. We can provide professional guidance to examine your individual situation and provide specific strategies to protect you and your children before, during and after the divorce process.  We offer a free consultation to discuss your options.

No-Fault Changes

Irreconcilable differences was made grounds for divorce in 1984. Before the current changes, the law required proving a two-year separation or a six-month separation if you had the consent of your spouse. Now, irreconcilable differences can be proven just by showing that you’ve lived “separate and apart for a continuous period of not less than six months.”  And this living apart does not even require separate residences.  According to one case, separation for divorce purposes “is a state which can be realized without physical distance between the parties.”

You also no longer need anything signed by your spouse to prove this separation. If one spouse contests the grounds of irreconcilable differences, then a waiting period is required before the divorce can be finalized. Once you can prove a six-month separation, then the requirement of irreconcilable differences has been met.  This means you have proven grounds for divorce, and your spouse can’t do anything about it.

In addition, Illinois’ residency requirement for divorce is now just 90 days before a divorce judgment can be granted.  And while you are supposed to file in the county where one spouse resides, if nobody objects, a divorce can be filed in any county the parties choose.

Spousal Maintenance

The January 2016 IMDMA has led to changes in Illinois spousal support laws as well. The new law sets out formulas that would apply in most cases to determine the proper amount of support and the number of years the maintenance award shall continue (see 750 ILCS5/504).  Our experienced lawyers are there to help establish support payments and explain the types of support that you may be entitled to receive or be required to pay.

The words “custody” and “visitation” have fundamentally been banished. Instead, the law now speaks in terms of “parenting time” and “allocation of parental responsibilities.”  One parent may still have most of the decision-making responsibilities, or these responsibilities may be split between the parents.  In making decisions about parenting time and responsibilities, the courts must always consider the “best interests of the child.”

Contact Us For Help With Divorce Issues

Illinois divorce law is complicated and changing, and the facts and circumstances of each case are different, so it makes sense to seek legal counsel to represent your interests. The skilled Illinois family-law attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. can advise and guide you through every step in the process.

We offer a free consultation to discuss your individual divorce issues and answer your questions. For your free initial consultation with an experienced and compassionate DuPage County divorce lawyer, contact us online or call 630-305-0222. We handle cases throughout Illinois and have offices in Woodridge and the entire Chicagoland area.



Attorney Natalie Stec

Natalie M. Stec, born and raised in Illinois, and earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her practice has been concentrated in significant pre and post decree marital and family law cases; including custody, visitation, support, and paternity matters. She has important criminal defense experience in both misdemeanor and felony cases. She is a very dedicated and passionate litigator. [ Attorney Bio ]