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Sometimes Fault Matters in a No-Fault Divorce State

Lawyer discussing with a man divorce reasons

Certain states such as Illinois are “no-fault” states, which means that these states’ courts won’t be interested in the underlying reasons for a divorce. No-fault normally allows couples to divorce without requiring a reason other than one of the spouses wants to end the marriage. However, there are certain exceptions to the no-fault rule that couples need to keep in mind.

Lawyer discussing with a man divorce reasons

Fault is Still Useable in Court

While a state may be no-fault in nature when it comes to divorce, fault can still be argued and used during a divorce case in some instances. This makes it important for couples to acknowledge the fault of one or both individuals, such as the incurring of debt without the other spouse’s knowledge, wasting or dissipation of marital funds, or any mistreatment of the other spouse or the couple’s children.

Alimony Determinations Based on Infidelity

A large number of couples want to get a divorce because of a spouse’s suspected or proven infidelity. Illinois and other no-fault states typically won’t hear evidence related to infidelity, but it could become relevant if there’s ever an issue with spousal support or alimony.

For example, certain states may allow the court to consider the infidelity of either party when making determinations for alimony, which can include any evidence of adultery, along with the overall effect that the affair had on the marriage and quality of life for the faithful spouse, whether it’s had an impact on their mental health or their professional life.

Parent’s Actions and How They Influence Rulings in Court

Another way fault can come into play in a no-fault divorce case is if the overall dissolution of the marriage had an effect on the children involved. A parent’s poor behavior such as substance abuse, adultery, or other types of destructive actions could become relevant if they led to the divorce. Other general actions that may be used or argued in court could include a waste of marital assets, such as extravagant expenses paid for non-marital partners.

All of these are potential exceptions to no-fault court cases, which is why it’s necessary for couples to take into account all underlying reasons for a divorce, regardless of the likelihood of fault becoming relevant in the courtroom.

Uncontested divorce lawyer Denise Erlich is passionate about helping divorcing couples in the greater Chicagoland area transition to their new life as seamlessly as possible. Ms. Erlich patiently guides her clients through every step of the divorce process and provides clients with candid advice about their case and legal options, so they can make informed decisions about their future.

Years of Experience: More than 20 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: Illinois State Bar Association U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois
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