By now, you may be aware that significant changes to Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act are set to take effect on January 1, 2016. For the first time in several decades, many of the statutes related to divorce, child concerns, and parenting rights are being revamped in an attempt to bring the law more in line with the needs of today’s families. The one update that is likely to have the most widely-felt impact is the elimination of at-fault divorce in the state and the corresponding removal of separation requirements for no-fault divorce.
No-Fault Divorce and Periods of Separation
For many years, a divorce would only be granted if one spouse committed certain acts or consistently demonstrated specific types of behavior. These included adultery, repeated mental or physical cruelty, abandonment, habitual drunkenness, extended issues with substance abuse, and other destructive conduct. In order to be granted a divorce, though, the petitioning spouse would be required to prove that such things were occurring, a process that could be difficult, time-consuming, and expensive.
In the mid-1980s, Illinois adopted no-fault divorce, or dissolution on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. Couples pursuing this option no longer had to prove that one spouse was behaving inappropriately, and neither would be officially to blame for the breakdown of the marriage. The challenge, however, was that the law required a couple to live separate and apart for a period of at least two years before a no-fault divorce would be granted. The separation period could be reduced to six months by mutual agreement, but a couple was still required to wait at least half a year to proceed.
With at-fault divorce becoming a thing of the past in Illinois, the state legislature also recognized the right of a couple to pursue a divorce without undue delays. Going forward, a couple ready to move forward with a divorce will no longer be required to sit and watch the calendar. Those who agree to the divorce can proceed without any mandatory period of separation, thus streamlining the process and allowing the parties to more quickly move on to the next stages of their lives.
In situations where the spouses are not in agreement regarding the divorce, there will still be no mandatory separation. However, a six-month period of living separate and apart will be accepted by the court as irrebuttable proof of irreconcilable differences.
Get the Help You Need
If you are considering divorce in the near future, it is important to have a full understanding of how the process will be handled by the court system. Contact an experienced Kane County family law attorney for assistance with your case today. We will work with you as you look to find a happier, healthier future for you and your children.