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Changes to Grounds for Divorce in Illinois


Prior to January 1, 2016, Illinois recognized specific grounds for dissolution of a marriage. Those grounds included adultery, desertion, habitual drunkenness or drug abuse, attempted murder of spouse, extreme and repeated mental or physical cruelty, conviction of a felony or other infamous crime or the infection of the other spouse with a sexually transmitted disease. In addition, Illinois also acknowledged a no fault dissolution with the allegation of irreconcilable differences. However, under the prior act, a no fault divorce required a two year separation period which could be reduced to six months if the parties were in agreement an signed a stipulation for the reduction of time.

Subsequent to January 1, 2016, Illinois has abolished all grounds for obtaining a divorce except the finding of irreconcilable differences. All litigants have to plead and prove now is that irreconcilable differences have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and the court determines that efforts at reconciliation would be impracticable and not in the best interests of the family. The legislature also reduced the separation period from two years to six months; and under common law Illinois acknowledges separation ever if the parties are still residing within the same dwelling as long as that cohabitation is not as husband and wife.

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