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Protecting Your Rights In Family Matters

How does fault affect divorce in Illinois?

On Behalf of | Nov 10, 2023 | Divorce

When a marriage ends, fault may play a role in the divorce proceedings. It can influence matters such as property division, spousal support and child custody.

Individuals should understand how fault may affect the process of divorce in Illinois to prepare for separation.

Grounds for divorce

Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, which means that couples can seek a divorce without assigning blame to either party. The most common ground for divorce in Illinois is “irreconcilable differences.” This ground acknowledges the breakdown of the marriage but does not specify detailed reasons.

While no-fault divorce is the primary option, fault-based grounds for divorce in the state include:

  • Substance abuse
  • Abandonment
  • Cruelty
  • Adultery

To claim fault-based divorce, one spouse must prove that the marriage ended for one of these reasons. In a survey published by Forbes, 34% of respondents said their marriage ended because of infidelity. It was the second most common reason after lack of family support. In addition, 3% of people ended their marriages because of substance abuse and 3% because of domestic violence.

Impact on property division and spousal support

Property division typically follows the principle of equitable distribution. Couples divide marital property fairly, though not necessarily equally.

However, if one spouse’s fault significantly contributed to the end of the marriage, it may affect equitable division. For instance, if one spouse wasted marital assets on an affair or gambling, the court may account for these lost funds when dividing assets.

Fault may also impact spousal support, often referred to as alimony or maintenance. If one spouse’s misconduct is a significant factor in the divorce, the court may order spousal support to the innocent party.

Effects on child custody and visitation

Fault is generally not a primary consideration in custody decisions. Illinois family courts prioritize the best interests of the child to determine custody and visitation. However, if one parent’s drug abuse or domestic violence poses a risk to the child’s well-being, they may be ineligible for custody or visitation.

The person requesting a fault-based divorce must prove the other spouse’s fault in court. They may present evidence, witnesses or testimony to substantiate the allegations. The court will carefully evaluate the evidence presented. The process can be costly and time-consuming compared to a no-fault divorce.

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