Illinois Family Law: Is Adultery a Ground for Divorce?

Rincker Law Family/Matrimonial Law Leave a Comment

People oftentimes come into my office asking me this question.  As of January 1, 2016, there are no more “fault-based grounds” for divorce in Illinois. Under 750 ILCS § 401 dissolution of marriage is based on irreconcilable differences only. Specifically, it must be alleged that:

1) There is an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage;
2) Efforts at reconciliation have failed; and
3) Future attempts are reconciliation would be impracticable and not in the best interest of the family.

If one party is contesting the divorce, living separate and apart for a minimum of six months is the easiest way for the spouse seeking the divorce to show irreconcilable differences. (Note, however, that this does not necessarily mean that you must live in separate houses–it just means not living as husband and wife. See In Re Marriage of Kenik, 181 Ill.App.3d 266 (1st Dist., 1989). Examples of living as husband and wife would include things like holding yourselves out to friends and family as a couple, eating your meals together, doing your laundry together, etc.

If one party is contesting the divorce, but the other party cannot wait the six month period, then that party will have to show “appropriate circumstances” why the divorce should be bifurcated, meaning that the divorce will be addressed now but ancillary issues will be dealt with later. “Appropriate circumstances” could include instances such as where there is violence, mental abuse, or pregnancy resulting from an extramarital affair.


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