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Chicago Divorce Lawyer > Blog > Divorce > Starting The Divorce Process In Chicago – Do I Need “Grounds” In Order To Get A Divorce?

Starting The Divorce Process In Chicago – Do I Need “Grounds” In Order To Get A Divorce?


We’ve probably all heard the term “grounds for divorce” before at least once in our lives. In older movies, books, and plays, the term “grounds for divorce” is often associated with an unhappy couple or spouse seeking dissolution of a marriage, and needing some sort of reason to provide to the court for the legal end of the marriage. Adultery, physical and mental pain, and abandoning the marriage are all reasons we have probably heard of or seen in movies, books, and court cases on T.V.

In real life, when a person or couple seeks to get a divorce, they may be wondering whether they will need to provide “grounds for divorce” to the court to justify the dissolution of the marriage and to get the legal “stamp” of divorce from the court. When it comes to Chicago divorces, a person or couple seeking a divorce no longer needs to prove “grounds” for the divorce, but rather must show that there are “irreconcilable differences” that have caused the breakdown and end of the marriage. In other words, a person or couple seeking a divorce in Chicago and in Illinois generally no longer need to prove “grounds” for a divorce (such as that one party is at fault), and, accordingly, Illinois is what is referred to as a “no-fault” divorce state.

“No-Fault” Divorce and “Irreconcilable Differences” in Chicago Divorces

Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, a Court enters a divorce judgment (a court order making the divorce final) when several requirements are met. Among other requirements, such as residency, a court enters a divorce order when “[i]rreconcilable differences have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and the court determines that efforts at reconciliation have failed or that future attempts at reconciliation would be impracticable and not in the best interests of the family.” Illinois courts do not recognize any other “grounds” for a divorce other than “irreconcilable differences.” In the past, in Illinois, a person or couple seeking a divorce would have to show “grounds” to the court for getting a divorce, which could be “fault” or “no fault” grounds. Since 2016, however, a person or couple seeking a divorce need only show that there are “irreconcilable differences” that, as the law states, have caused the breakdown of the marriage, that efforts to reconcile to save the marriage have failed, and that further efforts to reconcile would be fruitless or would not be in the best interests of the family. There are no other “grounds” that are recognized under Illinois divorce laws at this time.

Seeking Out Legal Help for Your Chicago Divorce

Although Illinois now only recognizes “irreconcilable differences” and is a “no fault” divorce state, a person or couple seeking a divorce is still faced with navigating Illinois divorce laws and the court system. Because the law and legal system is complex and nuanced, it is a good idea for a person or couple seeking a divorce to speak with an experienced family law attorney before initiating divorce proceedings. The experienced Chicago divorce lawyers at Birnbaum, Gelfman, Sharma & Arnoux provide a confidential consultation to learn about your potential case and to discuss your rights and options. Contact us today to speak with a lawyer and to see if we can help with your Chicago divorce.



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