A new year is just around the corner and with that commonly comes new laws. That is true for Illinois this year where the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution Act is getting an overhaul. Left unchanged for the past 38 years, updates to this legislation will change the way that couples in Illinois can approach getting divorced.
Up to now and through the rest of 2015, in order to get divorced, couples must identify one of 10 appropriate legal grounds for divorce. Many of these like habitual drunkenness and bigamy are seldom used anymore. Instead, most people file for divorce based upon irreconcilable differences or mental cruelty if the former cannot be proven. In order to qualify for a divorce per irreconcilable differences, a couple must have a two-year separation. A six-month separation with written documentation can sometimes be accepted.
Effective January 1, 2016, there will no longer be any grounds for divorce in Illinois. All marriage dissolutions will be granted based upon irreconcilable differences. These differences do need to be proved and can be done so by a six-month separation period without any written waiver requirements. Alternatively, if a judge deems that a marriage was broken by differences not able to be reconciled and that efforts to reconcile were unsuccessful or would be against what is best for a family, a divorce can be approved.
When a divorce is looming, understanding the law is important. Talking to an experienced family law attorney can be a helpful thing for Illinois couples facing this difficult life experience.
Source: The News-Gazette, “John Roska: Divorce law changing in Illinois,” John Roska, November 29, 2015