With the changes to Illinois law commencing on January 1, 2016, Illinois truly became a no-fault state when it comes to divorcing your spouse. While “irreconcilable differences” has always been one of the options for filing a petition to pursue a divorce from your spouse, Public Act 99-90 eliminated any fault-based grounds for dissolving a marriage. Previously, one of the grounds for divorce in Illinois was if one party had a substance abuse problem for at least two years. Notwithstanding that substance abuse is no longer an option for the dissolution of marriage, substance abuse often plays a major role in divorces in the United States.
Many studies have shown that marriages with one or more partners who have a serious alcohol problem are more likely to end in divorce. One such study published in May 2014 in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs*, researchers from the University of Michigan compiled data from a nationwide endeavor called the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC). The study involved 17,192 participants and included the comparison of divorce rates for people with a diagnosed alcohol use disorder to the divorce rates for people not affected by alcoholism. As part of the study, researchers also investigated how underlying factors can increase or decrease the odds of going through a divorce. The research concluded that divorce rates for couples with past or present alcohol abuse was 48.3%, by comparison divorce rates for couples without substance abuse issues was 30%.
Substance abuse issues are a known cause of strain in relationships. Alcohol abuse often leads to serious issues such as financial problems, difficulty for the alcoholic spouse to maintain employment, constant arguments, domestic violence, or other relationship problems which were not present before the substance abuse issues. Frequently, the partners of the addicts feel there has been a drastic change in a loved one and feel helpless to help them through this addiction. This despair may be a trigger for seeking legal guidance and obtaining a separation or divorce. Often, the sober partner explores divorce as a last option after attempts at rehabilitation and counseling have been made and continue to fail.
With the complexity of issues related to substance abuse and divorce, it is important to seek legal advice to navigate the many obstacles involved in this process. Every divorce is unique and with the potential obstacles that may be encountered due to the substance abuse, it is important to have an attorney in your corner who is familiar with all aspects of Illinois law and who can tailor your position to directly address the issues of your situations. Ask questions when you first meet with your attorney, and as new issues come up, discuss the standards and the changes so that you are well-informed and not confused when the court makes important decisions concerning your divorce.
With our office in Orland Park, the Sterk Family Law Group serves clients in Cook county, Will county, and DuPage county. Our professional family law group is ready to serve you today. Schedule your free, no obligation consultation to see how our legal team and experienced family law attorneys can assist you with your family law needs. Call us at 815-600-8950 or visit sterkfamilylaw.com.
This article does not constitute individual legal advice and is not to be construed as such. This article contains general information and constitutes legal advertising.
*Cranford, J. A. (2014). DSM-IV Alcohol Dependence and Marital Dissolution: Evidence From the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 75(3), 520–529.