Illinois became a no-fault divorce state when Public Act 099-0090 went into effect on Jan. 1, 2016. The law allows married couples in Illinois to file for divorce based on the grounds of “irreconcilable differences.” Prior to the passage of that law, divorces were granted based on grounds like adultery, abandonment or habitual drunkenness. Spouses could file for divorce based on “irreconcilable differences” only after living apart for at least two years. Now, they can file for divorce after six months of separation even if they still share a household.
Property division in an Illinois divorce
Public Law 099-0090 made filing for divorce easier for spouses in Illinois, but it did not change the way their marital assets are divided. Illinois is an equitable distribution state, which means family law judges divide marital estates fairly rather than equally. When they are called upon to make these decisions, judges consider the length of the marriage, the contributions made by each spouse and the needs of each spouse. Assets that either spouse owned before getting married are usually considered separate property.
Child custody and alimony in Illinois
Family law judges in Illinois follow the “best interests of the child” doctrine when they make child custody decisions. This usually leads to some form of joint custody because studies have shown that children suffer less trauma following a divorce when they spend time with both of their parents. Illinois divorce laws allow judges to award alimony to either spouse on a temporary or permanent basis.
Married couples who would like to avoid protracted legal battles should they choose to divorce can act proactively by drafting postnuptial agreements. These agreements can include provisions dealing with property division and spousal support, but they cannot be used to establish child custody arrangements.