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The wife of Larry Dominick, Town President of the Chicago, Illinois suburb of Cicero, has filed for divorce. Larry said they have been estranged for a year.

Elizabeth Dominick says that she is filing for the divorce because her husband has been abusive towards her. In contrast, Larry said he has never abused Elizabeth, and that if anyone has been a victim of abuse it is he. Neither partner has specified what form the alleged abuse has taken.

Divorce in Illinois, or as it is formally known, “dissolution of marriage,” does not require either party to be at fault. No-fault divorce can take place without either partner assigning blame. Some states require that the couple live apart for a time before allowing a no-fault divorce.

Fault divorce, which may impact child custody and property division, can occur in many circumstances. Common instigators of fault divorce are infidelity, physical inability to have sex, physical or mental abuse, abandonment for a minimum period of time, or one of the partners receiving a prison sentence. No state requires couples to separate for a minimum period prior to obtaining a fault divorce.

Unlike with no-fault divorces, a partner can present certain defenses in instances of fault divorce. For example, “connivance,” where the partner filing for the divorce consented to or participated in the defending spouse’s extramarital sex acts, is a complete defense to allegations of adultery. Condonation, which can also be used to defend against charges of adultery, is when the complaining spouse knew about and forgave the offending spouse’s infidelity.

Recrimination is when both spouses engaged in equally offensive conduct. If partners cheat on one another, then generally neither can use infidelity to bring a no-fault divorce.

Provocation is a defense when one spouse forces their partner to commit a divorceable fault. For example, a person cannot force their spouse out of the house and then claim abandonment.

The actual circumstances surrounding the Dominick divorce is unclear.

Source: Fox Chicago News, “Cicero Town President Larry Dominick’s wife files for divorce,” Nov. 9, 2012