Before January 1, 2016, Illinois divorce laws recognized fault grounds for divorce, including adultery, alcoholism, mental and physical abuse, and more. However, changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act removed those grounds and made Illinois a pure no-fault divorce state. Now, grounds for a divorce in Illinois need only be based on “irreconcilable differences,” or issues that cannot be resolved despite attempts to reconcile. It must be shown that these differences are not only irreparable but also that it’s in the best interest of the parties involved to end the marriage.
Even if your spouse’s adultery may have caused the irretrievable breakdown of your marriage, their adultery isn’t grounds for a divorce; the breakdown of the marriage is. Understandably, this means that the monetary elements of a divorce (child support, alimony or spousal maintenance, and property division) are not determined with any regard to misconduct during the marriage.
Is Adultery Illegal?
Technically, yes, although it depends on the state. Florida, Kansas, Idaho, Arizona, and yes, Illinois, recognize cheating as a crime. In Illinois, adultery is a Class A misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine as high as $2,500, court supervision, and/or imprisonment. Despite the potential for punishment, adultery is somewhat of an antiquated crime in Illinois and is seldom charged.
Does Adultery Affect Alimony in a Divorce?
Adultery may be the reason for a marriage’s dissolution, but the courts can’t use it to determine alimony awards. This is to ensure the decision of the court is fair and reasonable for the parties involved. Instead of basing a decision on marital misconduct, judges review the following factors without bias:
- The length of the marriage
- The age and wellbeing of the spouses
- Each spouse’s income, as well as the marital property and non-marital property of the spouse pursuing alimony
- Each spouse’s needs
- The current and future earning capacity of each party
- Whether the spouse pursuing alimony has the time to receive education, training, or employment while supporting themselves, or if they must instead care for a child/children with no time for employment
- Prenuptial agreements or other valid agreements
Conniff Law Offices: Chicago & Oak Park’s Family Law Experts
The attorneys at Conniff Law Offices help our clients navigate the ins and outs of the dissolution of marriage or civil union, including assistance with child support, spousal maintenance, and property division. Contact us to speak with our knowledgeable and compassionate team of legal professionals, and to learn more about the services our Chicago and Oak Park family law experts can provide.