Spousal Abandonment in Illinois

In Illinois, you do not need to prove spousal abandonment to get a divorce. This is because Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, so you do not need to prove you have grounds to file. Abandonment has minimal impact on divorce. But proof of abandonment can impact child custody proceedings.

No one deserves to be abandoned–left alone to fend for themselves where they were once supported.

If your spouse abandoned you and you don't want to be married anymore, you have grounds to file for a divorce.

How exactly does the court define abandonment though? And how will it affect your divorce case? These questions and more are answered below.

Defining Marital Abandonment in Illinois

Marital abandonment is when a spouse purposely leaves their family and doesn’t provide financial, emotional, or physical support. Previously, this was called willful desertion or unexplained absence.

If you get abandoned, you are able to file for a divorce. But you do not need to prove abandonment to get a divorce. Because Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, you can get a divorce for just about any reason. If a party believes the marriage cannot be fixed, they are able to file for a divorce.

Sometimes, people need to leave their situations for their own safety. That is why there are two types of abandonment.

Criminal Abandonment vs. Constructive Abandonment

Criminal abandonment is when a spouse refuses to provide care, financial support, or protection to a terminally ill or incapacitated spouse or child without just cause. Even in fault-based states, this is cause for a divorce.

Constructive abandonment is when someone leaves because the other party created an unbearable living environment. Essentially, it is constructive when the party is justified in their leaving. This could be due to things like emotional abuse, physical abuse, or an unsafe environment.

How Does Abandonment Affect a Divorce in Illinois?

Since Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, abandonment has very little effect on a divorce. Abandonment cannot impact property division, calculation of alimony, and a variety of other things. However, abandonment can impact decisions of child custody and placement.

Custody is awarded based on a child’s best interest. So, allegations of abandonment can work to prove that it is not in the child’s best interest to be placed with someone who abandoned their family. This can also impact child support because a main factor in calculating child support is parenting time.

Under Illinois law, if one party abandons their family, the other party has custody of the children until the court decides otherwise.[1]

Abandonment as Grounds for Divorce

Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, so you do not need to prove abandonment to file for divorce. But if you are abandoned, that may be the reason you want to get a divorce. If you want a divorce, speak with a family law attorney from Sterling Hughes to get started.

The only grounds you need to get a divorce is the belief that your marriage is irretrievably broken.

For Immediate help with your family law case or answering any questions please call (312) 757-8082 now!


Can I Kick My Spouse Out of the House?

Either party can leave if they want to, but they cannot be forced to leave without a court order. Under Illinois law, neither party can remove the other from their home without their consent. They can only remove the other party if the one staying provides a separate suitable home for the one leaving.[2]

My Wife Wants Me to Move Out of the House. Should I?

It depends on your exact situation. If you have children, you shouldn’t leave the house unless it is an unsafe situation. Also, if you want to keep the house, it may be better to stay there so that the other party doesn’t have more claim to it than you do.

My Spouse Voluntarily Left the House and Is Living Someplace Else. Can I Change the Locks?

Technically, even if they leave, the house is still a marital asset. But if you need to change the locks for your own safety, you can. The best thing to do is file to start your divorce or separation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Illinois a 50/50 state when it comes to divorce?

Illinois is not a 50/50 state because it is an equitable distribution state. This means property is not always split down the middle. Instead, the court uses factors like how much each party added to the marriage to decide what they think is fair.

What are grounds for divorce in Illinois?

Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, so you don’t need to go to great lengths to prove grounds for divorce. The only grounds needed is for your marriage to be irretrievably broken.

How long do you have to be separated in Illinois to get a divorce?

In Illinois, you can prove that a marriage cannot be fixed by living separately for 6 months. This separation can be in different residences or while still living together. The court understands that not everyone has the ability to live separately whether due to finances or sharing children.

Can you fight a divorce in Illinois?

There isn’t much you can do if the other party wants a divorce because Illinois is a no-fault divorce state. If you're fighting to keep the marriage going, you can try to convince them to try couple's therapy.
As for disagreeing with them on a topic within the divorce, that is completely within your rights. You can contest the other party during the divorce process and work to find an agreement you are okay with.

References: 1. 750 ILCS § 65/16. Rights of Married Persons Act. | 2. 750 ILCS § 65/16.