Transformation of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act: Removal of “Grounds for Divorce” - DuPage County Divorce Attorney | Bloomingdale Family Law Lawyers
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Transformation of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act: Removal of “Grounds for Divorce”

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b2ap3_thumbnail_grounds-for-divorce.jpgWith the adoption of the updated version of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), the Illinois General Assembly and its appointed Illinois Family Law Study Committee amended the many of the sections of the IMDMA to reflect cultural norms and trends that are pervasive in today’s modern family lifestyle. The amendments to IMDMA overhauled how the courts understand divorce, child custody, alimony, among other things.

Grounds For Divorce: The Once-Traditional Pathway to Divorce

In historical practices in family law, because marriage was considered fundamental and was to be protected in any way possible, the courts required that those couples who were interested in divorcing would need to have evidence or proof that would go to the matter as to the reasoning surrounding the divorce. This was known as “grounds for divorce”, and before the divorce could be considered, the parties would have to put forth reasons, based on their partners’ misconduct, to show that there was fault behind the reason that the marriage was damaged in the first place.

Well-Established “Grounds for Divorce” in Illinois

The most likely invoked grounds for divorce were:

  • One or both of the parties was naturally impotent at the time of marriage, and continues to be impotent;
  • One or both of the parties had an extramarital affair;
  • One or both of the parties was already married at the time of the subsequent marriage;
  • One of the parties had deserted or abandoned the other for at least one year;
  • One or both of the parties was a habitual drinker and excessive user of drugs for at least two years;
  • One or both of the parties was physically or mentally cruel and/or attempted to take the life of the other;
  • One of the parties committed a felony or other significant crime; or
  • One of the parties infected the other with a sexually transmitted infection, among other reasons.

With the abolition of the grounds was also the abolition of the affirmative defenses, recrimination and condonation.

The Predominance of “No Fault” Divorce: The New Divorce Procedure

Though the grounds for divorce were once a requirement, there was a major movement throughout the United States to permit couples who just wanted to divorce each other, even where there was no attributable fault. This ground, known as “irreconcilable differences”, permitted a no-fault divorce where the misconduct of either or both of the parties was not recognized. This became increasingly more popular as fault and misconduct was no longer considered by the courts when assessing the property division between the couple as a result of the divorce (though it could have an impact on the custody arrangement put into place).

“Artificial Time Barriers” to Divorce Now Removed

Not only were grounds for divorce removed from the IMDMA, the time period for divorce and separation was also shortened, as the previously imposed time period was considered artificial and had no benefit but to forestall the impending divorce. Now, the couple only needs to separate for six months, and once the couple has been living apart and separate for six months without an attempt to reconcile, there is an irrebuttable presumption that the breakdown of the marriage is no longer fixable, and the parties can proceed to get an immediate divorce.

Experienced Family Law Attorneys in DuPage County

With the amendments made to the IMDMA, it may be confusing to know your rights in a divorce. It is important to speak with the experienced family law attorneys at Mevorah & Giglio Law Offices. Contact our experienced DuPage County family law attorneys today for a free and confidential consultation.


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