While adultery does not affect your ability to get a divorce in Illinois, it can affect various aspects of your divorce. Below is an overview of the potential impacts, but you should consult an Illinois divorce attorney for recommendations specific to your circumstances.
Illinois, like several other states, is a no-fault state when it comes to divorce. That means that there is no need to prove that your spouse caused problems in your marriage or that there was any specific cause for a breakdown of the marital relationship. Instead, you just have to show that there is a breakdown. Proving this breakdown, however, is as simple as stating that you no longer want to be married to your spouse; there is no need to go into specifics.
Illinois law was not always this lenient when it came to ending marriages, however. Just a few years ago, couples had the option to use fault or no-fault divorce. One of the grounds to prove fault was adultery. The advantage of using a fault-based divorce was that there was no required waiting period that you and your spouse needed to be separated before you could file for divorce. Today, there is no waiting period, but there is a 90-day residency requirement. You can also get a divorce if you and your spouse have been legally separated for at least two years.
Illinois courts are not permitted to consider spousal misconduct when they are distributing property. However, they can take into account whether one spouse used marital funds in a way that did not benefit the marriage. The court may decrease a property distribution based on the amount of misused funds. For example, proving that your former spouse purchased gifts for his mistress could increase your share of the marital estate. Nonetheless, the same could be said if the spouse used the money for gambling or another illicit purpose.
It is a common misconception that adultery will affect your ability to receive maintenance or the amount. Illinois law does not permit judges to consider whether infidelity occurred in awarding alimony. Instead, the court will consider factors such as:
Infidelity generally will not play a role in awards of child custody, but it can. The court has to make a child custody award that is in the best interests of the child. The judge focuses on whether the child will be safe and well cared for in the custody of one parent or another.
If the unfaithful spouse brought your children into a situation that involved the person with whom he or she was cheating, the court might not look favorably on that situation. Involving another partner in the relationship is confusing for children and may be detrimental to their mental or emotional health.
If you are considering divorce after realizing you have an unfaithful spouse, the team at The Goodman Law Firm can walk you through your options. Call to schedule an appointment today.
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