How Do I Choose Grounds for a Divorce?
Illinois allows either spouse to file for a divorce, regardless of any fault. Under state law there is a no-fault ground of divorce and several fault grounds for divorce. Choosing what grounds to file for depends on many different factors. Typically the grounds for divorce do not matter in how the marital property and assets are split up, but some grounds can impact child custody and visitation.
Irreconcilable Differences and a No-Fault Divorce
When you file for a no-fault divorce, or a divorce based on irreconcilable differences, you don’t have to prove any facts about why the marriage failed. You do have to have been separated for at least six-months prior to the entry of the divorce judgment. There is also a two-year waiting requirement. However, the two-year wait period can be waived if both spouses agree in writing to the waiver. If only one spouse agrees to the waiver the parties will either have to wait for two years before a divorce will be final or amend the divorce petition to one of the at-fault grounds.
Separate from the issue of who is at fault for the divorce, the court will make a determination about how to split up the property, custody and support issues, and all other issues in dispute in the divorce.
Understanding the Fault Grounds for Divorce
When you file for divorce on the basis that the other spouse is at fault for the breakup of the marriage you have to both state claims that support one of the allowed fault grounds and in court you will have to prove that the facts you stated are true.
The accepted grounds for divorce are:
- Alcohol or Drug Abuse
- Attempting to kill the other spouse
- Extreme and repeated physical or mental cruelty
- Conviction of a felony
- Infecting the other spouse with a sexually transmitted disease
Some of these grounds require particular facts. For example abandonment requires the spouse has been absent from the home for at least a year and the ground of alcohol or drug abuse requires the addiction has lasted at least two years.
Even if the judge finds that the divorce is the fault of the other spouse it will not affect how the marital property is split up. But, certain grounds such as cruelty, alcohol or drug abuse, and conviction of some felonies may weigh heavily in how custody and parenting time are awarded. The issue will be less about the actual ground of divorce and more about what the facts prove about the conduct of the other parent and what is in the best interest of the child.
How to Choose What to File
Every case is different. There are many reasons to move forward with a no-fault divorce, especially is both sides are in general agreement about most of the issues. However, if custody and parenting time are an issue, or the other spouse refuses to cooperate with a no-fault divorce, choosing the right fault ground is important to the progress of the case.
If you are contemplating filing for a divorce, meet with a lawyer to discuss the individual circumstances of your situation before moving forward. An experienced divorce attorney will help you understand your rights and what is in your best interests.
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Contact our law office today to discuss your divorce questions. We offer a free initial consultation by phone or in person. You are able to reach a member of our firm at any time, day or night. You can reach us by phone at 815-723-2895, toll free at 866-733-5529 or via e-mail.
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