To get divorced, you must first have ‘grounds’ for divorce. Saying you have “grounds for divorce” simply means you have a legally recognized reason to get divorced. “Irreconcilable Differences” is one such reason. Other grounds for divorce vary from state to state. Normally those grounds include things like adultery, abandonment, mental cruelty, physical violence and more.
The grounds for divorce that will be available to you will depend on where you live. At this point, however, every state allows you to get divorced based on irreconcilable differences.
What Does Irreconcilable Differences Mean?
In divorce, the term “irreconcilable differences” basically means that you and your spouse don’t get along. To put it simply: your marriage, like Humpty Dumpty, has fallen apart and can’t be put back together again.
For the most part, “irreconcilable differences” doesn’t have a lot of special requirements. You don’t have to prove that your marriage is a disaster. All you have to prove is that your marriage is broken and you believe it can not be fixed. That’s it.
What happens if you think your marriage has broken down, but your spouse disagrees? The truth is that you don’t have to agree. As long as either you OR your spouse believes that your differences are “irreconcilable,” your marriage can be dissolved. (Presumably the fact that you and your spouse can’t even agree that you have irreconcilable differences proves that you have irreconcilable differences!)
Don’t We Have to Be Living Separately to Get Divorced?
Depending upon the state you live in, you may have to live separately from your spouse for a certain period of time before you can get divorced. That amount of time can range from a few weeks to several years.
In some states, living “separate and apart” also requires you to live in separate houses. In those states, the clock doesn’t start ticking on your separation date until one of you moves out.
Other states, however, allow you to “live separately” even if you are still living together. You just can’t live together “as man and wife.”
Check with a divorce attorney in your state to find your state’s separation requirements.
Irreconcilable Differences in Illinois
Illinois used to have many different grounds for divorce. As of January 1, 2016, the only ground for divorce in Illinois is irreconcilable differences. There is no other ground for divorce.
Illinois law also used to have a two year separation requirement. That meant that you and your spouse had to live separately two years before you could get divorced based upon irreconcilable differences. Now, however, that requirement has also changed.
In Illinois now, if you and your spouse agree, without waiting. You don’t have to wait two years. You don’t even have to wait six months. If you and your spouse agree that you have irreconcilable differences, you can get divorced anytime.
If you don’t agree, then you need to live separate and apart for a period of six months. After six months, the court will presume you and your spouse have irreconcilable differences.
In other words, in Illinois, after a six month separation, you and your spouse will be divorced so long as either one of you wants a divorce.
Each state has its own list of grounds for divorce. Those lists usually include things such as adultery, bigamy, excessive drug or alcohol abuse, mental or physical cruelty, and desertion. Each ground for divorce has certain requirements. You must satisfy the requirements in order to obtain a divorce based upon that “ground.”
Some grounds specific separation requirements. Others don’t.
Each state may also have different rules for what you have to prove to qualify for a divorce. Before you file for divorce, it is important that you know the laws of your state. That way you can file for divorce using one of the grounds for divorce that your state recognizes.