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.

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.


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.

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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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Examples of Grounds for Divorce


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Divorce Process in Georgia

Georgia state laws govern the process of divorce. The state has adopted “no-fault” divorce, meaning you do not need specific grounds to file a divorce petition, other than a claim that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” A hearing in civil court will be necessary, however, and the state also has residency requirements for couples seeking a divorce.

Filing for Divorce in Virginia With Adultery & Abandonment

When spouses decide to end their marriage in Virginia, they can file for no-fault or fault divorce. A fault divorce means that one spouse committed some type of marital misconduct leading to the end of the marriage. Two grounds for a fault divorce are adultery and abandonment. Not only does such misconduct give spouses the right to divorce, it is also considered when a court divides marital property or determines whether a spouse is eligible for alimony.

Desertion Penalty in a Maryland Divorce

When a relationship goes through a difficult time or reaches an end, a husband or wife may decide to leave the marital home. If one spouse leaves or abandons the other, desertion may become a legal issue if the couple divorces in Maryland. In some cases, spousal desertion can penalize a spouse in alimony, property and other divorce-related legal issues.

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