One might think that issues such as adultery, cruelty or abuse should be taken into consideration during a divorce, but for the most part, they aren’t.
That’s because Illinois, like the rest of the states, follow no-fault divorce laws, which means that grounds for divorce aren’t taken into consideration when deciding how marital property should be divided, whether alimony should be awarded or how much child support a parent should pay.
One of the main reasons courts adopted no-fault divorce laws is to cut back on the amount of drama and mud-slinging that would often result as both spouses tried to blame one another for their marriage ending.
Under Illinois’ no-fault divorce law, a couple has to be separated for two years, or at least six months if both spouses are willing to sign a waiver of the two-year separation agreement.
Otherwise, it is still possible to go through a “grounds-based” divorce under Illinois law. There are 10 possible grounds for divorce in the state that involve fault; however, “mental cruelty” is really the only one that is commonly used today.
Even in grounds-based divorce, fault doesn’t affect issues such as property division, alimony or child support. That’s because these cases involve two distinct parts that are decided on two separate court dates: the grounds issue on one date, and then all the other issues at a later date.
Additionally, state law specifically states that decisions regarding property division, child support or alimony must be made “without regard to marital misconduct.”
On the other hand, issues such as adultery, cruelty or abuse can be taken into consideration and can affect the outcome of decisions involving child custody. But keep in mind that this is true only when the issues affect “the best interest of the child.”
For more information on how conduct affects divorce and child custody cases, talk to an experienced family law attorney in your area.
Source: The News-Gazette, “John Roska: Conduct usually doesn’t matter in divorce ruling,” John Roska, May 18, 2014