When you have reached the point in your marriage where the relationship is no longer happy or healthy, you have several options. The commitment you made at your wedding is important to you, and you are probably hesitant to call it quits without a fight. Marriage counseling, individual and couples’ therapy, and other efforts may be successful in helping you salvage and repair your relationship, but, in many cases, the things are just too broken. If this describes your situation, a divorce might be your only remaining option. Fortunately, the laws regarding divorce in Illinois are among the most permissive in the nation, making a better future possible for those who might be trapped otherwise.
To seek a divorce in Illinois, you, your spouse, or both must have been a resident of the state—which includes being stationed in Illinois as a member of the armed services—for at least 90 days prior to filing. In filing your petition, you will need to cite the grounds for your divorce. Changes to the law that took effect last year make this part easy as well. The court will only grant a divorce on the grounds that irreconcilable differences have led to the irretrievable breakdown of your marriage. It is no longer possible to cite so-called “fault” grounds such as adultery, repeated mental or physical cruelty, or abandonment. These changes also mean that you will not have to prove that such behavior occurred, making the process much simpler than it might have been in years past.
There is also no required period of living separate and apart. Prior to 2016’s reforms, a couple could be forced to live separate and apart for up to two years or more before their divorce was finalized. Today, the proceedings can move forward immediately if both parties agree that a divorce is in their best interests. If they do not agree, then a six-month period of living separate and apart will provide irrefutable proof of irreconcilable differences to the court. Following this period, the divorce may continue even if one spouse still disagrees.
A Quick Comparison
One of the most interesting aspects of divorce laws are that they are created, maintained, and implemented at the state level—which means there are 51 different sets of laws regarding divorce among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. While a divorce in Illinois is often listed among the most expensive, on average, the laws that guide the process are more conducive to finding a happier future than in other states.
Some states—South Carolina, for example—still have a mandatory one-year separation requirement for a no-fault divorce, pushing the length of the process up to 15 months or longer, even for a divorce where little is being contested. In other states—such as South Dakota and Mississippi—a no-fault divorce is only possible if both spouses agree to the split. A stubborn spouse could spend years refusing to sign the paperwork, leaving you stuck in a bad situation. States like these still have fault-based divorce, but, sometimes, a marriage breaks down without the damaging behavior fault grounds are intended to address.
Managing the Divorce Process
While the laws regarding divorce are more permissive in Illinois than in many other states, that doesn’t mean that the process is always easy. You will still need to settle issues such as asset division, parental responsibilities, child support, and alimony along the way. If you are considering a divorce, contact an experienced Kane County family law attorney for guidance. Call 630-377-7770 for a free consultation at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. today.