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Does it matter who is to blame for the divorce?

Divorce doesn’t just happen for no reason. Very few people end their marriage despite no problems in their relationship. Something must be going very wrong for one or both spouses to decide it’s over.

This could be something out of both spouses’ control, like a personality conflict or a realization that they are no longer in love. Or maybe one spouse had an affair, lied about money, abandoned the household or was abusive. Maybe both spouses did things that drove each other away.

Blame and responsibility might matter when it comes to emotionally processing your divorce and learning from it. But it often has little or no impact on the legal divorce process itself.

The meaning of no-fault divorce

That’s because Illinois, like every other state, has adopted no-fault divorce. Decades ago, if you wanted to dissolve your marriage legally, you had to prove that your spouse committed at least one of a narrow set of legitimate grounds for divorce, such as infidelity and abandonment. Not only could proving your case be challenging, it also meant having to expose your personal business in open court.

No-fault divorce made getting divorced simpler and more private. All you have to claim as grounds in your divorce filing is “irreconcilable differences” between yourself and your spouse. No proof of those differences is required. In other words, whether you or your spouse caused the divorce does not matter — mostly.

The exception can come in matters like child custody. If you left your ex because they were abusive to you or the children, or due to a drug or alcohol addiction, or some other reason that would make them unfit to share custody of the kids, the court will consider those factors

Help taking the emotion out of your divorce negotiations

Regardless of who is responsible, you and your spouse will have to put aside your differences to work out a reasonable divorce settlement. This is not always easy, but working with a reliable and caring divorce lawyer can help.