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Comparing and contrasting Illinois fault and no-fault divorce

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For many years, Illinoisans only had one way to get divorce: by showing that the other spouse was at fault for the divorce. More recently, the legal system has moved away from such requirements. But, just because no-fault divorces are now popular does not mean that an at-fault divorce is never the right choice for Illinoisans. To understand which is right for them, keep reading.

No-fault divorces enjoy one major benefit: the spouses need not prove that either was at fault. They simply need to separate for a period of time, and then attest that the marriage is irreparable.

By contrast, in an at-fault divorce, one spouse must show that the other is at fault. Fault could be shown in several ways, including that the other spouse committed adultery, they abandoned the other spouse, they were going to jail or they inflicted emotional or physical pain.

At-fault divorces have some potential benefits. A person can file for it more quickly because they do not have to separate for any period of time first. Second, and potentially more important, spouses who can prove fault can a bigger share of the marital property.

But, proving fault can be difficult. Doing so requires generating sufficient proof. And, even if there is proof, the other spouse has a variety of defenses at their disposal.

For instance, if one spouse claims the other was an adulterer, but the complaining spouse had known about and forgiven that behavior, the complaining spouse cannot dredge up that behavior as grounds for divorce. Similarly, if the complaining spouse had provoked the complained-of behavior, then the complaining spouse cannot use the behavior against the other spouse.

Source: FindLaw.com, "An Overview of No Fault and Fault Divorce Law," accessed on Nov. 30, 2015

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