Divorce – Contested vs. Non-Contested

Chicago Divorce Attorney Explains No Fault Divorce

Responsive divorce lawyers serving Chicago and Cook County, Lake County and DuPage County

Illinois courts gain jurisdiction, or power, over the divorce if one party has resided in the State of Illinois for at least 90 days. Many issues need to be decided in a divorce, and this article pertains only to how the court dissolves the marriage. However, a divorce lawyer from M. Scott Gordon & Associates can help you fully understand the legal issues involved in a divorce.

In 1977, the Illinois legislature rewrote the divorce laws in our state. The statute, which was eventually adopted and is still with us today, is known as the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. The law was significantly changed in many regards on January 1, 2016.

All states in our country have “no-fault” divorce. In order for a court to grant a divorce, known in Illinois as a dissolution of marriage, the court must make a finding that there is no fault on the part of either spouse, but “irreconcilable differences have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and efforts at reconciliation have failed or that future attempts would be impracticable and not in the best interest of the family.”

In order for an Illinois court to grant a no-fault divorce, the husband and wife must live separate and apart for a continuous period in excess of 6 months and irreconcilable differences must be found to have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. In addition, further efforts at reconciliation must have failed or future attempts at reconciliation must be considered impracticable and not in the best interest of the family.

What if the husband and wife decide, during their separation, to try “one more time” to repair their marriage? Does that negate the original separation period? The answer is no. The law wants to encourage couples to attempt reconciliation, not to discourage them from making these attempts.

Lastly, what does “live separate and apart” mean? Although the statute may not be clear, our courts have interpreted the phrase to include periods when the parties resided in the same residence but had clearly not lived as husband and wife. For example, many couples find it difficult to live in separate residences immediately because of financial constraints. However, they may live in separate bedrooms and not engage in sexual relations. Our courts consider that type of arrangement as living separate and apart. A divorce lawyer can explain your options and the legal implications of specific living arrangements.

All U.S. states completely revamped their divorce laws in the 1970s. Illinois passed its new statute, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, in 1977. The political battle in our state was quite fierce, and one of the main opponents to liberalized divorced laws was the Roman Catholic Church, among others. One compromise contained in our current state statute was to allow parties to settle divorce issues, such as those relating to property and children, without asking for a divorce. Although divorce has become quite common in our society, there are still a number of people who object to completely dissolving their marriages, either because they want or need some of the protections and benefits marriage affords, such as health insurance, or because they are opposed to divorce for religious reasons. In other cases, couples have been married many years and are elderly, and they may believe it is easier to remain married.

The compromise in Illinois was to allow “legal separation.” Essentially, any person living separate and apart from the spouse without fault may have a remedy for reasonable support and maintenance while they still live apart. Hence, filing a Petition for Legal Separation with a circuit court in any county in our state can allow the court to award support and deal with other issues between the parties without terminating the marriage. Once the Judgment for Legal Separation is entered by the court, property can be acquired and held separately as non-marital property.

It is important to note that the other spouse is not prohibited from filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and requesting that the court completely dissolve the union.

Finding a trusted Cook County, Lake County or DuPage County divorce attorney

M. Scott Gordon & Associates understands the intricacies involved in dissolution of marriage, and we can help you navigate the process of a fault or no-fault divorce.  Contact our divorce lawyers online or call  312.360.0250 for our Chicago office or  847.329.0101 for our Skokie office.

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