If you are planning to file for divorce in Illinois, but you know your spouse does not want to move forward with the divorce, you may be wondering how Illinois divorce law handles such cases. In other words, you might want to know: Do both parties have to agree to divorce in Illinois?
While a divorce case may be able to move more quickly and smoothly when both parties agree to the divorce and all terms of the dissolution of marriage, you should know both spouses do not have to agree to divorce in order for a divorce to be granted.
Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), there is a presumption that the no-fault requirement of “irreconcilable differences” has been met once the parties live separate and apart for a specific period of time, and there is little a spouse can do to prevent divorce once the requirements have been met. A divorce lawyer in Chicago can explain in more detail.
Uncontested Divorces Can Be Faster and More Cost-Effective and But Are Not Necessary
In Illinois, when both parties agree to the divorce and have reached an agreement about all terms of the divorce — from the division of marital property to the allocation of parental responsibilities — the divorce process can be more efficient. Since an uncontested divorce does not require a court to hear all the facts of the case and to render a decision on specific issues, the divorce can proceed in a faster and more cost-effective fashion, but an uncontested divorce certainly is not necessary.
There are many situations in which one spouse files for divorce and the other spouse refuses to sign the divorce papers or attempts to contest the no-fault grounds for divorce in order to prevent the divorce from happening. However, such efforts to avoid divorce typically are not effective once the “irreconcilable differences” requirement has been met.
To be clear, once the spouse who files a petition for the dissolution of marriage is able to show that the requirements for a divorce have been met, a spouse who disagrees about the divorce will have little ability to prevent the court from granting the divorce.
Meeting the “Irreconcilable Differences” Requirement for a Divorce in Illinois
Even if your spouse refuses to agree to the divorce, you will usually only need to show that the requirement of “irreconcilable differences” has been met. What do we mean by this? Under Illinois law, the party who files a petition for the dissolution of marriage must plead that irreconcilable differences have led to the breakdown of the union. Then, the court must determine that efforts towards reconciliation have not succeeded, or that future attempts would not be practical and in the family’s best interests.
How can you show that this “irreconcilable differences” requirement has been met? It is relatively easy once you have lived separate and apart from your spouse for six months or longer. To be sure, the IMDMA explains that, if the parties reside separately for a continuous period of six months immediately prior to the entry of the divorce judgment, there is an irrebuttable presumption that irreconcilable differences exist. Accordingly, you will not need to provide any evidence other than proof that you have been living separately and apart from your spouse for six months or more.
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