Archive for the ‘grounds for divorce’ tag

Divorce, Legal Separation, or Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage

March 10th, 2015 at 5:00 pm

invalidity of marriage, legal separation, divorce, Chicago Divorce LawyerUnhappily married couples that wish to separate have three specific options under the law: divorce, declaration of invalidity of marriage, and legal separation. A declaration of invalidity of marriage, often referred to as an annulment, ultimately voids the marriage and is not appropriate for every situation. It has strict requirements and must be pursued within a certain period of time. A legal separation permits couples to establish child support and maintenance obligations and make custody arrangements while remaining legally married. A divorce also permits couples to establish support obligations, as well as divide marital assets and establish custody. Unlike a legal separation, divorce dissolves the marriage.

Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage

When a marriage is declared invalid, it is treated as if the marriage never took place. This is an extreme remedy and the law provides only four situations in which a court will enter a declaration of invalidity of marriage:

  1. One or both parties were unable to consent to the marriage. For example, a person with a mental illness or under the influence of a controlled substance may be determined to lack the ability to appropriately consent.

  2. A party cannot physically consummate the marriage. However, a marriage may only be annulled for this reason if the other party was unaware of such incapacity prior to the marriage.

  3. One or both parties were under 18 years old and did obtain parental consent or judicial approval to marry.

  4. The marriage is prohibited by law. Polygamy, for example, is illegal in Illinois. Therefore, a second marriage while still legally married to another would be declared invalid under this provision.

Legal Separation

In some cases, a married couple may no longer wish to live together, but personal or financial reasons prevent them from petitioning for divorce. Such a couple may elect to petition for legal separation. The couple will remain legally married, but the court may, among other considerations, establish a child custody arrangement, define visitation rights, and determine obligations for child and/or spousal support. Opting to legally separate does not prohibit a couple from filing for divorce in the future; divorce remains a viable option.


A decree of divorce officially ends a marriage, but the process can be long and contentious. The first step is filing a petition, which must include specific grounds for divorce. The other party may contest those grounds, but the court will likely grant the petition. The grounds include:

  • Adultery;
  • Habitual drunkenness;
  • Impotence (this is also grounds for annulment, but there is no delineated time-frame associated with divorce);
  • Physical or emotional abuse; or
  • Substance abuse.

Most often, couples cite irreconcilable differences, which is a much more general grounds for divorce. However, in order to obtain a divorce under irreconcilable differences, the couple must be separate for two years. This requirement, however, can be waived by agreement.

If you are unhappily married and would like to know more about your options regarding a declaration of invalidity of marriage, legal separation or divorce, contact one of our Chicago divorce attorneys today. We have offices in Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, Orland Park and downtown Chicago.

Emotional Affairs – Grounds for Divorce?

June 25th, 2013 at 3:32 pm

A Huffington Post blogger found herself on the open road a few years ago with someone she considered a great friend, someone who was “funny, brilliant and nerdy in the best of ways.” She never had feelings for him, and even while they were on their epic cross-country trip—a long-held dream fulfilled for the writer—their relationship was nothing but platonic. The writer was, after all, married and had been with her husband about a year before she met her road trip partner. And yet when she returned home from the trip, less than 18 months later, she realized that “some things just weren’t worth risking, like my future children.” The marriage may not have ended because of the trip, but it had changed her in such a way that she was unable to be with her husband afterward. She writes, “I began to look around and ponder why I was willing to take my ex’s abusive treatment for so long.”

It was only post-split, in the midst of some confusing and somewhat erratic behavior, that she began to realize that perhaps she had been in an emotional affair all along. According to Redbook Magazine, “the signs of an emotional affair may be more subtle than those of a sexual affair, but they’re just as unmistakable.” Psychotherapist M. Gary Neuman told Redbook that, “an emotional affair happens when you put the bulk of your emotions into the hands of somebody outside of your marriage.” It’s not that you’re not speaking with your spouse—after all, households take conversations to run effectively—but rather that you’re not sharing in any significant way.

Dr. Shirley P. Glass wrote in her 2003 book NOT “Just Friends” that while emotional affairs aren’t new, they do seem to be on the rise. This could be in part because of the increasing isolation many people feel in today’s packed and isolating world. “This feeling of emotional detachment plants the seeds for an emotional affair,” Dr. Steven Stosny told Redbook. And an emotional affair could be a lot less work than the commitment to work on your marriage.

Emotional affairs and emotional isolation can certainly lead someone to seek a divorce, but the important question to ask is this:

Does a husband or wife having an emotional affair give the other spouse legal grounds to file for divorce?
The answer is not so simple.  Illinois law provides several different grounds for divorce that might come to mind when someone is having an emotional affair, including adultery, mental cruelty, and irreconcilable differences.
While having an emotional affair would not constitute adultery (which is traditionally defined as sexual infidelity), such an affair could be used to establish grounds of mental cruelty or irreconcilable differences, depending on the facts of the case.  If you or someone you know is suffering from emotional isolation from a spouse or believe your spouse is having an emotional affair, and are considering filing for divorce, it is important to contact an Illinois divorce attorney who concentrates in the practice of domestic relations law.

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Divorce Linked to Doing Housework?

May 30th, 2013 at 8:35 pm

Divorce Linked to Doing Housework? IMAGEA recent Norwegian study finds that while not directly correlated, there is a relationship between divorce and sharing household duties, as reported in the Huffington Post. The study found that “the divorce rate among couples who share household chores was about 50 percent higher than for those in which the woman takes care of the housework,” according to the Huffington Post.

Yet it’s not so cut and dry: households in which men help out with the housework are apt to be more modern relationships, in which “women also have a high level of education and a well-paid job, which makes them less dependent on their spouse financially.” It’s not necessarily a cause-and-effect relationship. And yet still, married couples who definitively see their role in the marriage, whether it be as breadwinner or house-parent or somewhere in between—couples that didn’t divvy up small duties in the day to day—had a lower divorce rate. “Clearly defined responsibilities between partners,” according to the Huffington Post, “prevented one spouse from stepping on the other’s toes.”

And yet “traditional” marriages don’t necessarily correspond with social conservativeness, at least according to the numbers. A couple years ago the U.S. Census Bureau reported that they were actually lower rates of divorce in the supposedly liberal Northeast than in the more socially conservative South and West. This could have as much to do with the age of first marriage as it does with mindsets—the median age for a first marriage was higher in the Northeast than in either the South or West. Generally if a person waits to marry, he’s less likely to get divorced.

If you or someone you know is considering divorce or interested in learning more about your options, don’t go through it alone. The most important first step is to contact an experienced Illinois family law attorney today.


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