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What is a no-fault divorce?

On Behalf of | Sep 29, 2021 | Divorce |

No-fault divorce emerged as a concept in American law during the mid-20th century. Oklahoma and California were the first states to decide no one needed to be officially blamed when a marriage came to an end. These days, every state offers some level of no-fault divorce. However, the way no-fault divorce works can still vary with location. It’s important for Illinois residents whose marriages are coming to an end to understand what no-fault divorce means here.

How divorce has evolved in Illinois

It used to be that couples needed to give the courts a serious reason for dissolving their marriage. They had to show where the fault was in the marriage. Adultery, abuse and even addiction are examples of this. Impotence could also be a reason for filing for divorce. Essentially, one party had to assign blame to the other. One spouse was innocent, and the other was at fault.

In fact, only spouses defined as “innocent” could file for divorce. But since 2016, all divorces in Illinois have been no-fault. Generally speaking, there are many advantages to a no-fault divorce. They are less expensive, and they take less time to resolve. No-fault divorces don’t incentivize conflict. That means it can be easier on people, mentally and emotionally, than the alternative.

The downside of a no-fault divorce is that it may be too accessible. Before, one party had to agree to “give” the other a divorce. Today, anyone in Illinois can divorce their spouse for any reason. It only takes one party to consent, in effect, for the divorce to happen. One effect of no-fault divorce is its effect on monetary awards. In the past, cheating spouses could be made to effectively pay for their misdeeds. Today, support in Illinois is determined based only on need and ability.