There are many reasons couples file for divorce, and a criminal conviction could be one of them. If you are divorcing in Illinois due to your spouse’s criminal conviction, you should know the legal protections available to you and have an idea of what to expect from the legal process. Illinois allows residents to file for divorce with or without cause. Most divorces that occur in the US today permit “irreconcilable differences” and “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage” as acceptable grounds for filing for divorce. However, fault-based divorces still happen, and there are several fault-based grounds on which a married person may file for divorce.

Divorce for Felony Conviction

You are able to file for fault-based divorce on the grounds of your spouse being convicted of a felony, even if that felony did not physically harm you. The fact that your spouse committed a crime that calls for imprisonment and will therefore be unable to contribute to their marriage is more than enough for grounds for divorce in Illinois. In fact, if your spouse committed a felony and faces long-term imprisonment, filing for fault-based divorce on these grounds will expedite the divorce process in most cases, and you will obviously have a strong case for child custody and child support. Filing on the grounds of your spouse’s felony conviction also leaves them with no real way to contest the filing.

While this may seem like a one-sided ordeal, the reality is that an incarcerated spouse can still participate in divorce proceedings by proxy with the help of their attorney. They may also seek a court-appointed attorney if they must, but ultimately, they will have minimal room to argue for much of anything on account of their incarceration.

Domestic Violence and Divorce

In some cases, a criminal action becomes the grounds for divorce when the action victimizes the other spouse. “Domestic violence” pertains to any violence, abuse, or neglect that occurs within a family or household. If one spouse commits any type of domestic violence, the other spouse can not only refer to this action as grounds for divorce but also take additional legal steps to separate the offending spouse from the rest of the family.

Your Bloomington, IL family law attorney can help you obtain the appropriate protections for you and your family through the Illinois family court system. This may include a protective order or restraining order that prevents the subject of the order from coming in contact with you and your family or other members of your household. The court typically grants requests for such orders very quickly on a temporary basis to ensure the protection of those named in the order. Once a formal hearing takes place, the judge overseeing the matter can adjust, withdraw, or sustain the protective order as necessary.

A domestic violence case that leads to divorce will also likely run in tandem with a criminal case from the state against the offending spouse. These criminal proceedings will have a significant impact on the outcome of the subsequent divorce.


Not every spouse is forthcoming when it comes to seeking a divorce. In some cases, a spouse may simply leave one day without a word as to their intentions. In Illinois, a married person does not require a specific reason to file for divorce, but they may name one to pursue a fault-based divorce judgment against their spouse. Prior to the approval of Illinois’ no-fault divorce laws in 2016, a few of the possible grounds one could use with which to file for divorce included willful desertion, two years of physical separation, or unexplained absence. Today, all of these issues fall under the purview of abandonment.

If your spouse has left with little to no trace of where they went, your Bloomington, IL family law attorney can help. They can discover your best route to securing a divorce decree and also determine any damages you may claim against your spouse in the future. The Illinois family court rules on topics such as property division, child custody, and child support in Bloomington divorce cases. If your spouse never provides a Response to your divorce petition or appears in court, you should have no trouble securing a summary judgment against them. Whether you can locate them and recover property and assets you’re legally owed is another matter.

Understanding Protective Orders

The court has a duty to protect an individual who files a claim of domestic abuse or violence. Typically, the person petitioning the court for a restraining order against an allegedly dangerous spouse, domestic partner, or household member will receive an immediate temporary restraining order that takes effect until there is a formal hearing. It’s vital to work closely with your attorney in determining which type of protective order you need.

Protective orders typically prevent the subject of the order from coming into a certain proximity of the protected people named in the order. The subject of the order may be barred from contacting those protected or from visiting places the protected people frequent, like schools and houses of worship, until a hearing takes place. Violating a protective order has serious consequences, including jail time, and will also reflect negatively on the one who violated the order in future divorce proceedings.

Hire Reliable Legal Counsel

One of the most important steps you can take when you need to file for divorce due to your spouse’s criminal activity is to work with a reliable and experienced Bloomington, IL family law attorney who has experience handling your kind of situation. Every family is different, and every divorce case has unique variables in play, and a seasoned attorney is your best asset in handling these variables effectively.

In some cases, divorcing a criminal can be a relatively easy and straightforward process, and it’s a complicated mess in other cases. The right attorney can help a spouse facing a difficult divorce approach the issue with a fuller understanding and greater confidence. Speak with a Bloomington, IL family law lawyer as soon as possible if you need guidance through the family court system and need to better understand your options when it comes to addressing your spouse’s bad behavior.