How do I choose grounds for my divorce?

You must plead and prove grounds to obtain a divorce in the State of Illinois. There are a number of grounds which include, but are not limited to:

  • Mental cruelty,
  • Physical cruelty,
  • Adultery,
  • Extended drug or alcohol abuse,
  • Desertion, and
  • Irreconcilable differences.

Although grounds need to be plead, their significance is often more symbolic than actual since the grounds alleged will not impact the distribution of marital property or award of maintenance because those issues must be decided "without regard to marital misconduct" by statute.
In making an allocation of parental rights and responsibilities determination, "the court shall not consider the conduct of a present or proposed custodian that does not affect his relationship with the child."

In Illinois there is a two (2) year waiting period for irreconcilable differences which must be proven. If one of the parties does not agree to waive the two (2) year waiting period, the party seeking the divorce can only proceed to a divorce after the two year separation period expires.
If parties to a divorce wish to use grounds of irreconcilable differences before two years has passed since their separation, the parties must be separated for six months and agree to waiving the two year waiting period in writing. This separation period can take place while the parties live in the same residence if certain requirements are met.
In addition to the separation period, the party seeking a divorce under the grounds of irreconcilable differences must prove that:

  1. Irreconcilable differences have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and
  2. Efforts at reconciliation have failed and further attempts at reconciliation would be impracticable and not in the best interests of the family.