New Illinois law shortens pre-divorce separation rule

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Property Division on Thursday, February 11, 2016.

We have spoken a couple of times already in this blog about changes to Illinois’ family law statutes, but so much has changed that a third post is necessary. Today, we will discuss how spouses no longer need to cite grounds for divorce to end their marriage sooner.

Prior to this year, no-fault divorce was available in Illinois, but the law required spouses to live separately for at least two years first. Waiting so long can cause a significant financial burden, and is highly inconvenient for those who wish to marry someone else.

To avoid this burdensome wait, spouses had the option to allege grounds for divorce as allowed under the law. Commonly-cited grounds included adultery, drug addiction and “extreme physical or mental cruelty.” It was normal for each spouse to accuse the other of one of these things, because an at-fault divorce only required a six-month separation period.

At the same time, reading in divorce papers that your husband or wife is calling you a drug addict or accusing you of physical or mental abuse can be shocking and upsetting. As a result, negotiations often became strained, dragging out the divorce process.

The new law throws out this system. Now, there is one ground for divorce in Illinois: irreconcilable differences. Essentially, every divorce is a no-fault divorce, and a separation of just six months is necessary to show that irreconcilable differences exist. In addition, the lack of accusations flying back and forth may make an out-of-court settlement easier.

As Illinois’ law continues to evolve, it is important that you hire a divorce attorney who keeps up on the law, and has experience dealing with the human side of divorce as well.

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