“I have committed adultery. My wife says she’ll take all of our property because I am at fault. Will she get everything?”
In Illinois, the grounds for divorce are handled separately from the rest of the case. Adultery is one of the 12 grounds for divorce. At the hearing of the case, the grounds are dealt with first before any other issues. The court will hear evidence, and if the grounds are proved, then the case moves on to the next phase.
After the grounds for divorce have been completed, the court hears the financial issues in the case. The amount of property given to each spouse is one of the financial issues dealt with by the court at this point in the case. The court does not consider the grounds for divorce in dividing the property. Rather, the court looks at a number of factors dealing with the economic abilities of the parties (contribution to the marital estate, age, amount and sources of income, employability, the needs of each party, and the like). These issues have nothing to do with whether or not a spouse committed adultery or any other ground for divorce.
The court will hear evidence regarding the economic abilities of the parties. Based on this evidence, the court will make a decision. The court’s order will provide for an equitable division of the property between the parties.
In summary, the party causing the divorce is not penalized from a financial point of view. The party guilty of a ground for divorce receives no less, and the other party receives no more, because of this factor. The court considers only financial and economic circumstances in dividing the property.
Jay A. Frank is a divorce and matrimonial practitioner in Chicago with over 35 years of experience. He has been selected as one of the top family-law attorneys in Illinois. He can be reached at (312) 828-9600. View his Divorce Magazine profile.