New Grounds For Illinois Divorce

Posted by Erin Birt | Nov 10, 2015 | 0 Comments

As of January 1, 2016, Illinois will be streamlining the specific grounds one can use to plead for divorce.

This won't negate the valid reasons that bring couples to divorce planning, only the way in which a divorce attorney can present them in court.


At this point in time, lawyers commonly plead just two grounds for divorce: irreconcilable differences and mental cruelty. In my 12 years as a DuPage County divorce lawyer, I have rarely pled anything other than these two grounds in a divorce case.

However, current Illinois grounds for divorce also include:

  • Impotence

  • Bigamy

  • Adultery

  • Desertion for more than one year

  • Habitual drunkenness for two years

  • Excessive use of addictive drugs for more than two years

  • Attempt to take the life of the spouse in a manner that shows malice

  • Extreme and repeated physical or mental cruelty

  • Infecting the partner with a sexually transmitted disease


On January 1, 2016, Illinois will have only one ground for divorce: irreconcilable differences. The Court specifically defines this as follows:

  1. Such differences have caused an irretrievable breakdown in the marriage.

  2. Past attempts to resolve the differences have failed.

  3. Future attempts at resolution would not be in the best interests of the individual and the family.

In addition, the new 2016 laws will eliminate the statutory two-year waiting requirement to file for divorce.

In the video below, I will explain when adultery is relevant in an Illinois divorce since adultery is no onger included in the new grounds for Illinois divorce.


When viewed in legal context, the list of grounds for divorce in the previous (prior to 2016) divorce act can be understood as irreconcilable differences between two parties. It's also understood that couples will continue to divorce for any of those legitimate reasons.

The key difference is that regardless of the specific cause(s) the divorce will be pled and introduced in court as simply an irreconcilable difference.

I can help you navigate these new laws and reduce the stress of divorce through family mediation and collaboration techniques. Contact me for details.

About the Author

Erin Birt

Since 2003, Erin N. Birt, J.D., CADC has focused her practice on parenting time, divorce, mediation, and substance abuse issues. Ms. Birt's unique background in both family law and addictions counseling help her clients successfully navigate the complex issues of coparenting and divorce. Ms. Birt also devotes her time to presenting at continuing education seminars for attorneys, mediators, and counselors.


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