Every state has different rules when it comes to filing for divorce. While some states require a spouse filing for divorce to prove some type of wrongdoing or fault their spouse committed to qualify for divorce, most states have adopted no-fault rules that allow couples to divorce for irreconcilable differences. In Illinois, it’s possible to file for divorce either by citing a specific fault your spouse committed or by citing irreconcilable differences.
A no-fault divorce essentially allows a couple to divorce without airing their dirty laundry in court. You will not need to prove that your spouse engaged in any martial misconduct, nor will you need to be subjected to claims of the same from your spouse. A no-fault divorce may seem straightforward enough, but there are still several criteria you and your spouse must meet to complete a no-fault divorce.
Finalizing a No-Fault Divorce in Illinois
Illinois state law has fairly reasonable criteria for ending a marriage on no-fault terms. First, the couple must have lived “separate and apart” for two years. This does not necessarily mean that the spouses must have lived separately, but they must prove they lived more along the lines of roommates than spouses. It’s also possible to have this two-year requirement reduced to six months if both spouses agree to it in writing, but if one disagrees, they will need to wait the full two years.
Aside from this residency requirement, a couple must agree their marriage involves irreconcilable differences, that attempts to reconcile have failed, and that further attempts to reconcile would be detrimental to the family.
In fault-based divorces, one spouse alleges the other of marital misconduct that caused the complete breakdown of the marriage. A few possible examples of marital misconduct may include:
- Cruelty and/or abuse.
- Wasteful spending of shared assets.
- Substance abuse.
- Abandonment for one year or more.
- Infection with a sexually transmitted disease.
- Felony conviction.
- Bigamy, such as the spouse already being officially married to someone else in another state.
In fault-based divorce cases, the at-fault spouse’s behavior may or may not come into play depending on the nature of the divorce. For example, if one spouse committed serious crimes then they would likely have very little room to argue for child custody or child visitation rights, but they may still be able to argue for property division under Illinois law.
Contested Vs. Uncontested Divorce
It’s vital to understand the differences between contested and uncontested divorce under Illinois state law. Many people mistakenly assume that a contested divorce means that one spouse wants to divorce while the other one does not, but this is not the case. While this type of situation involves a host of unique problems, a contested divorce is a divorce in which one spouse, typically the respondent to the petitioner’s divorce papers, does not agree to some of the proposed terms of the divorce.
It’s rare for a divorcing couple to have everything situated perfectly in their original divorce petition, and many contested divorces ultimately become uncontested after attorneys’ negotiations, mediation, and litigation. Ultimately, the goal of any divorce petition or Petition for Dissolution is to offer terms the respondent will find agreeable so the divorce proceedings can continue uncontested.
What Is a Joint Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage?
The easiest and simplest way to complete a divorce in Illinois is through a Joint Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage. Both spouses will need to sign this document and provide required supporting documentation, such as proof of income and a written list of all the couple’s property and debts, as well as distinctions concerning who will be responsible for and take possession of what once the marriage ends.
In Illinois, this option has many qualifying conditions and typically exists for younger married couples who recognize that their marriages will not work in the long run and want an easier method of ending them. Each spouse cannot earn more than $20,000 per year nor can the couple earn more than $35,000 combined. The divorce cannot entail child custody, child support, or alimony, and neither spouse may own any real property. Most couples that will meet these requirements will be younger couples, either just out of high school or college, before they have really started their careers.
What to Expect With a Divorce in Bloomington, IL
Divorce proceedings serve two main purposes: to end the marriage from a legal standpoint, and to divide the couple’s assets and debts. While these may sound like straightforward goals, there are countless factors that can complicate divorce proceedings, and the agreeableness of the divorcing couple will also determine how much time, money, and energy both will need to invest in their divorce until it is completely finalized.
The more property and assets a couple owns together, the more complex their property division proceedings will be. This is, of course, only true if they are unable to come to mutually agreeable terms about dividing their property. In some divorce cases, couples can amicably decide how to divide their shared assets and assign responsibility for outstanding debts.
If a divorcing couple has minor children, this will complicate divorce proceedings further. Illinois family court judges have a professional duty to rule in favor of the best interests of a divorcing couple’s children. Custody negotiations can be long and arduous for everyone involved, but ultimately the court must rule in favor of the custody arrangement that imposes minimal disruption on the children’s lives while providing them with an acceptable level of access to both of their parents.
Legal Counsel Is a Must
Divorce in Bloomington, IL can be a complex and challenging matter, and having reliable and experienced legal representation on your side is an incredible asset. You might think that you could save money on legal fees by representing your own interests in court, but you are putting yourself at an extreme disadvantage, especially if your soon-to-be ex-spouse has secured legal representation.
Your divorce attorney in Bloomington, IL can help you gather all of the evidence necessary to ensure an equitable and reasonable division of your marital property and increase the likelihood of a fair custody ruling.