No Fault Found: Illinois’ No-Fault Divorce System

February 5, 2024

No Fault Found: Illinois’ No-Fault Divorce System


Divorce. A word that conjures images of broken promises, simmering resentments, and courtroom battles waged over perceived faults and transgressions. But in 2016, Illinois took a bold step away from this adversarial landscape, embracing a new reality – the no-fault divorce. This blog post delves into the intricacies of this law, exploring its origins, its impact on your divorce journey, and the reasons why the Illinois Legislature decided to leave fault-based divorces in the dustbin of history.


Farewell, Fault: Demystifying the No-Fault Paradigm


The cornerstone of Illinois’ no-fault divorce system is simple – you no longer need to prove your spouse’s wrongdoing to dissolve your marriage. This means casting aside the traditional grounds for divorce, like infidelity, cruelty, or desertion. Instead, you simply need to demonstrate irreconcilable differences, a term signifying that the marriage is beyond repair and attempts at reconciliation have failed.


A Sea Change for Illinois: Why No-Fault Sailed


The transition to a no-fault system wasn’t a whimsical decision. The 2016 law, Public Act 99-90, emerged from some compelling arguments:

  1. Reducing Conflict and Emotional Toll: Fault-based divorces often descended into acrimonious battles, fueling anger and resentment that negatively impacted spouses, children, and families. No-fault aimed to create a more amicable environment, prioritizing cooperation and fairness over blame and recriminations. The Illinois Legislature had already shifted to dividing assets without considering fault, so removing fault as the reason for divorce was a natural step.
  2. Aligning with Modern Realities: The traditional grounds for divorce, rooted in antiquated notions of marital transgressions, no longer reflected the complexities and evolving dynamics of modern marriages. No-fault acknowledged that marriages can dissolve for a multitude of reasons beyond individual blame.
  3. Streamlining the Process: The onus of proving fault often led to lengthy and costly court battles, draining emotional and financial resources. No-fault aimed to streamline the process, making divorce more accessible and affordable for all.
  4. Promoting Healing: By removing the focus on blame, no-fault hoped to foster a more positive environment and for amicable co-parenting arrangements if divorce was inevitable.


While the absence of fault simplifies the grounds for divorce, there are some basic requirements

  • Residency Requirement: To file for divorce in Illinois, you or your spouse must have resided in the state for at least 90 days before filing. If you have children, they have to live in the State of Illinois for the last 6 months.
  • Separation Requirement: You don’t need to be separated to file, but you must demonstrate that you’ve lived separate and apart from your spouse for at least six months. That can mean that your marriage has failed and you live in the same house as roommates.


Embracing the Future: No-Fault and the Path to a Brighter Tomorrow


The Illinois no-fault divorce system is a testament to the evolving nature of marriage and societal understanding. It offers a path forward that prioritizes cooperation and fairness over blame, potentially paving the way for a less contentious and more amicable divorce process. I have taken that a step further in my practice. I focus on cases where the parties have or will be able to reach their agreements without a Judge deciding. I turn these agreements into the paperwork to get divorced at a fair price. If you and your soon-to-be-ex can work through your divorce amicably, reach out to my office. I am a call or a click away.