Every state is somewhat unique in the way it approaches the end of a marriage, and the laws regarding divorce are constantly shifting in response to social needs. In the not-so-distant past, you couldn’t get divorced without proving that you had the appropriate “grounds,” or legal justification, for your request.
At the time, society placed a heavy emphasis on the sanctity of marriage, so one spouse had to prove to the satisfaction of the court that the other was at fault for the discord in the marital union. You might have the legal grounds for a divorce, for example, if your spouse was an adulterer, a habitual drunkard or had abandoned you.
Illinois has become a purely “no-fault” divorce state
Eventually, the laws loosened a bit, allowing couples to either assert grounds for a fault-based divorce or to go with a “no-fault” option, which required neither spouse to shoulder the blame for the end of their union.
As of the current date, however, irreconcilable differences are the only grounds for divorce that Illinois now recognizes. This is, essentially, a no-fault option, as it merely requires one or both spouses to assert that:
- The couple has irreconcilable differences, and those differences have caused an irreparable breakdown of the marriage.
- Attempts to reconcile have been unsuccessful, and further attempts wouldn’t be in the best interests of the couple and/or their children.
So, what happens if you say that your marriage is irreparable but your spouse insists that it isn’t? Well, that alone might indicate that you and your spouse have irreconcilable differences when it comes to your future paths. In addition, if you simply live separately and apart from your spouse for a continuous period of six months or longer, the court considers that to be enough to meet the burden of proof required by the statute.
It can be difficult to articulate a concise reason for wanting a divorce, but it really is enough to say that you and your spouse simply no longer share the same interests, values, world view or goals and that you simply aren’t compatible.