Illinois Divorce on the Grounds of Abandonment

By Elizabeth Rayne

Although Illinois law no longer punishes spouses for abandonment, the state does allow divorce on the grounds of desertion. However, even when one spouse deserted the other, many couples still file for divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences, meaning that neither spouse is at fault. Apart from child custody, the grounds for divorce typically do not have much impact on the final divorce decree, which includes spousal maintenance, property division and child support.

Although Illinois law no longer punishes spouses for abandonment, the state does allow divorce on the grounds of desertion. However, even when one spouse deserted the other, many couples still file for divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences, meaning that neither spouse is at fault. Apart from child custody, the grounds for divorce typically do not have much impact on the final divorce decree, which includes spousal maintenance, property division and child support.

Grounds for Divorce

Illinois courts will only grant a divorce if the couple has grounds for dissolving the marriage. Couples may pursue a "no-fault" divorce, meaning that neither spouse is responsible for causing the marriage to an end, but rather the couple has irreconcilable differences. A court will only grant a divorce based on irreconcilable differences if the couple has been separated for at least two years, or six months if the couple waives the waiting period requirement. Illinois also grants divorce based on a number of "fault" grounds, including desertion, cruelty and habitual drunkenness.

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Desertion

Illinois courts may grant a divorce on the grounds of desertion, but only if the circumstances match the legal definition. Illinois law recognizes desertion when one spouse has willfully separated himself from his spouse for at least one year. Although the spouse's departure must be willful, it may be provoked by the other spouse. Additionally, the year may include the time it takes for the spouses to negotiate a divorce settlement, or litigate the divorce agreement before the court.

Common Divorce Grounds

If you request a divorce based on the fault of the other spouse, you must provide evidence to prove that the other spouse is at blame. As a result, couples in Illinois more commonly seek a divorce based on no-fault grounds, or irreconcilable differences. Particularly if the couple agrees to sign a waiver for the two-year waiting period, the couple only has to wait six months to request a divorce instead of a year for desertion. As a result, many couples find it easier and less time consuming to file a divorce based on irreconcilable differences instead of desertion.

Impact on Divorce Decree

Generally, marital misconduct does not have an impact on the divorce decree, including orders surrounding spousal maintenance, property division and child support. In other words, seeking a divorce based on the grounds of irreconcilable differences likely would not result in lower spousal maintenance than if you filed on the grounds of desertion. However, if your spouse abandoned his children, or left your children unsupervised when he should have been taking care of them, this may demonstrate that he is an unfit parent. As a result, in some cases, evidence of desertion may influence a court's child custody determination.

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Desertion Penalty in a Maryland Divorce

References

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Why File for a Fault Based Divorce?

When a court finds that one spouse is at fault for a divorce, it may bring personal satisfaction or vindication for the other spouse; it may also have an impact on the divorce decree in terms of alimony, property division and custody. On the other hand, divorces based on fault may be more time consuming and costly for the couple. The availability and usefulness of filing for a fault-based divorce is highly dependent on the laws of the state where you live.

Does Adultery Justify Divorce?

Not only does infidelity lead to discord in a marriage, it often causes spouses to call it quits. If your spouse cheated on you and you're filing for divorce, you may want to list adultery as the reason your marriage came to an end. However, not all states give you this option. While all states permit spouses to file for divorce on no-fault grounds, meaning a spouse does not have to prove misconduct on the part of the other to get a divorce, only some states recognize adultery as grounds for divorce.

What Are Desertion Divorce Papers?

Although divorce law is established at the state level, there are some common themes and requirements among the states. For example, individuals seeking divorce must have grounds to file. The permitted grounds for divorce vary by state, but are typically sorted into two categories – fault and no-fault divorce, with some states allowing only no-fault divorce. The majority of states, however, recognize desertion or abandonment as no-fault grounds for divorce.

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