No-Fault Divorce in Illinois

In Illinois, if you want to end a marriage, you must use the no-fault divorce model. What does this mean? How does it differ from other types of divorce? And most importantly, how can it impact you and your spouse's future?

Illinois is a no-fault divorce state

The fact that Illinois is a “no-fault divorce state” means any couple seeking a divorce does not need to provide evidence of wrongdoing or fault by either party. Instead, they can simply say their marriage is irretrievably broken, and the court will accept that as a sufficient reason for a divorce.

Why you don’t have to prove fault in Illinois

In Illinois, you don't have to prove fault in a divorce due to its status as a no-fault divorce state. This was established when Public Act 99-90 went into effect on January 1, 2016, eliminating all fault grounds for divorce.

The shift to no-fault divorce is part of a broader trend in many states to reduce the potential for conflict and acrimony in the divorce process. Instead of focusing on blame and wrongdoing, the emphasis is placed on resolving marital settlement issues such as asset division, child custody, and spousal support.

In a no-fault divorce, you only need to show "irreconcilable differences" as your grounds for divorce. This means that the marriage has broken down to the point where it cannot be saved. Further attempts at reconciliation would be impracticable and not in the best interests of the family.

While you don't have to prove fault, however, the court may still consider misconduct under certain circumstances, such as when deciding on property division or spousal maintenance. However, these situations are exceptions rather than the rule.

Many other states offer no-fault divorce, though the technical “ground” in these states may be an “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage” rather than “irreconcilable differences.” 

Requirements for no-fault divorce in Illinois

In Illinois, the requirements for a no-fault divorce are as follows:

Residency requirements

At least one of the spouses must have lived in Illinois for a minimum of 90 days before filing for divorce.

Grounds for divorce

The only ground for divorce in Illinois is irreconcilable differences. This means that the couple agrees that their marriage has broken down and attempts at reconciliation have failed or would be impracticable and not in the best interests of the family.

Separation requirements

Although it's not always necessary, living separately and apart for a continuous period of time (at least six months) prior to the divorce can create a presumption of irreconcilable differences. However, you can also prove irreconcilable differences without this period of separation if both parties agree.

Filing requirements

The divorce petition should be filed in the county where either spouse resides.

Division of property

Illinois is an equitable distribution state, meaning marital property is not necessarily divided 50/50, but in a way that's fair or equitable. Factors such as the length of the marriage, the economic circumstances of each spouse, the value of the property, and the contributions of each spouse to the acquisition and preservation of the marital property are considered.

Issues like spousal support (also known as maintenance or alimony), child custody and visitation (now referred to as the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time in Illinois), and child support are decided as part of the divorce proceedings.

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Are exceptions ever made to Illinois' no-fault law?

No. The only ground for divorce in Illinois is irreconcilable differences. However, if one spouse is abusing the other, for example, a court may consider this when dividing assets but it will not be the reason for the divorce.

How long does it take?

A no-fault divorce in Illinois generally follows this timeline:

Filing for divorce: There's no waiting period to file a petition for divorce in Illinois, but at least one spouse must have lived in the state for a minimum of 90 days before filing.

Waiting period: For a no-fault divorce in Illinois, you must show that you and your spouse have lived separately for six months or longer. However, this requirement can be waived if both parties agree.

Finalizing the divorce: An uncontested divorce, when it is also a no-fault divorce, can be finalized in as little as two months. That said, it can take longer depending on various factors, including court schedules and whether all issues have been resolved.

Why does a no-fault divorce typically take less time? It eliminates the need to prove any marital misconduct. In fault-based divorces, evidence must be gathered and presented, and witnesses may need to testify. Indeed, the divorce proceedings can become lengthy and contentious. This not only prolongs the process, but it also makes it more emotionally draining and expensive.

The timeline can vary greatly depending on the specific circumstances of each divorce case, including the complexity of the marital estate and whether the divorce is contested or uncontested. Even if a no-fault divorce is contested, it takes less time than a fault-based divorce.

Benefits of no-fault divorce

There are many benefits to a no-fault divorce, including:

  • Less conflict
  • Faster process
  • Reduced legal costs
  • Decreased emotional harm
  • Greater control over the outcome

Hello Divorce offers many plans to support your divorce needs. We can help guide you through your Illinois no-fault divorce with less expense than traditional routes.

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Divorce Content Specialist & Lawyer
Divorce Strategy, Divorce Process, Legal Insights

Bryan is a non-practicing lawyer, HR consultant, and legal content writer. With nearly 20 years of experience in the legal field, he has a deep understanding of family and employment laws. His goal is to provide readers with clear and accessible information about the law, and to help people succeed by providing them with the knowledge and tools they need to navigate the legal landscape. Bryan lives in Orlando, Florida.