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Is Adultery Illegal, and How Does it Affect Divorce Cases?

 Posted on December 11, 2018 in Adultery

Lombard divorce lawyer irreconcilable differencesThroughout the history of marriage, adultery has been socially frowned upon as a betrayal of trust, and it often leads to divorce. Public opinion and religious beliefs are often believed to be the driving factor behind these negative views, but the laws regarding marriage also play a role. However, many people do not understand how these laws may affect them.

The Legality of Adultery

As is common with most laws, the way adultery is defined and handled varies from state to state. What many fail to realize about adultery is that in Illinois, it is considered against the law and can result in legal repercussions. Illinois is one of 18 states that have made adultery a crime. Illinois law defines the act of adultery as voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a person who is not their spouse, if:

  • The person is married and knows the other person involved in such intercourse is not his spouse; or 
  • The person is not married and knows that the other person involved in such intercourse is married.

Based on the law, if two parties engage in such action, and their actions are “open and notorious,” they are committing a misdemeanor, which can be punished by up to a year in prison. However, even though this law exists, it rarely results in criminal prosecution, so a person is unlikely to actually receive jail time for their extramarital activities. 

Adultery and Divorce

Even if adultery is unlikely to lead to criminal charges, many people believe that it is a valid reason for divorce. However, while Illinois law used to recognize adultery as a legal grounds for divorce, in 2016, Illinois became a “pure no-fault divorce” state, meaning that irreconcilable differences are now the only grounds for divorce recognized in the state. This means that when a person files for divorce, they only need to state that their marriage has irretrievably broken down, reconciliation efforts have failed, and future efforts would be impractical. Adultery may be one of the primary reasons that irreconcilable differences exist, but there is no need to prove that it occurred in order to receive a divorce.

Contact a DuPage County Divorce Lawyer for Help

If infidelity has led to the breakdown in your marriage, or if you and your spouse are experiencing other difficulties in your relationship, divorce may be your best option. Our attorneys can help you understand your rights and the legal requirements you must meet throughout the divorce process, and we will work with you to reach a positive resolution that allows you to move on with your life. Contact our Lombard divorce attorneys at 630-426-0196 for a consultation.


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