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What Role Does Adultery Play in Illinois Divorce Law?

Posted on in Divorce

Illinois adultery lawJanuary 1, 2016 Update: The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) underwent some significant changes. Removal of the at-fault divorce, such as the heart balm provision used in divorces involving adultery, was one of those changes. This essentially means that, while still emotionally painful, adultery holds no legal implications in divorce. 

Unfortunately, it is an all-too-common scenario where one spouse engages in a romantic relationship outside his or her marriage. In situations such as these, the act of adultery not only severely compromises the relationship between spouses, but also has a significant chance of altering the relationship between a parent and any children of the marriage, as well.

Because of the negative emotional toll cheating has on the entire family, it is perhaps not surprising that acts of adultery play a role in many divorces. However, just because adultery may have led a couple to divorce, it is not necessarily telling of how adultery will affect the legal process of divorce proceedings.

Basis for Divorce

When parties decide to file for divorce, they either allege fault-based or no-fault grounds in their divorce petition to the court. In Illinois, a no-fault divorce may be sought where the couple has irreconcilable differences and has either tried to resolve these differences but has been unable to do so, or has been separated for a designated period of time, which depends on whether both spouses agree to the divorce or not. In a fault-based divorce, one party generally attempts to divorce the other based on a type of marital misconduct that one spouse committed against the other. In other words, one spouse has a clear reason to want to divorce the other.

One such reason that is an acceptable ground for a fault-based divorce in Illinois is adultery. In order to prove that one spouse is guilty of adultery, the spouse seeking the fault-based divorce must provide relatively strong evidence for their accusation. Generally speaking, just a feeling, or seeing the spouse in public with a member of the opposite sex, is not enough to prove the necessary grounds. Better evidence for adultery includes a spouse spending a significant amount of money on a member of the opposite sex, evidence that they spent the night together, or documentation that acknowledges a romantic relationship.


Contrary to what many people may believe, Illinois law does not allow for the consideration of any marital misconduct, including instances of adultery, when determining alimony payments or spousal maintenance awards. The relevant law, instead, clearly states that a judge’s alimony determination must be fair and just according to the facts of a particular case. Illinois law sets out a list of several factors for judges to use when making this determination, which is ideally supposed to help them come to their decision objectively.

Divorce Attorney

The DuPage County family law attorneys at Davi Law Group, LLC have experience handling many types of divorce matters. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to discuss your case. We serve clients in Cook County, DuPage County, and the surrounding area.

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