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Mental Cruelty as Grounds for a Divorce

 Posted on March 01, 2015 in Divorce

There are two different types of divorces in Illinois – those in which there is a finding of fault, and those based on irreconcilable differences (which are sometimes called no-fault divorces). One of the recognized grounds for a “fault” divorce is mental cruelty. If someone can prove to a court that they have been subjected to mental cruelty in their marriage, then they will be allowed to get out of the marriage more quickly than if their divorce was not based on fault.

Fault vs. No Fault

If a divorce is to be granted for irreconcilable differences, the spouses must live their lives separate and apart from each other. The divorce will only be granted after they have lived this way for two years. (It is possible, though, for the divorce to be granted after six months, if both spouses agree to sign a waiver of the two-year requirement.) When a divorce is based on “fault” grounds, it can be dissolved more quickly – but those grounds are not always present.

The recognized “fault” grounds for divorce in Illinois include mental cruelty, physical cruelty, impotence, adultery, bigamy, abandonment, transmission of a sexually transmitted disease, habitual drunkenness, conviction of a felony, drug addiction, and attempting to kill one’s spouse. If none of these grounds were present, then a divorce can only be based on irreconcilable differences.

Mental Cruelty

Courts in Illinois have established that mental cruelty, as grounds for divorce, requires more than merely showing that one spouse treated the other badly. As stated in the case ofGregory vs. Gregory, the mental cruelty must be extreme and repeated, and generally it must amount to a course of “abusive and humiliating treatment,” that is of the nature to “torture, discommode, or render miserable the life of the opposite spouse, which conduct actually affects the physical or mental health of the spouse.”

This cruelty must have taken place without “provocation” by the spouse who was subjected to the cruelty. And in order to determine whether mental cruelty is a grounds for divorce, a court must look at the total factual background of the case, as well as the emotional and personal make-up of the parties, and the circumstances under which the incidents occurred.

If you hope to convince a court that you have grounds for a divorce based on mental cruelty, your chances of success are better if you show evidence that you have suffered physical problems, or extreme stress, as a result of your spouse’s treatment. It is worth gathering testimony from doctors, or other medical professionals. Remember that you will need to convince the court that you did nothing to provoke this treatment.

Finding an Attorney

If you have been subjected to mental cruelty by your spouse, it is in your best interests to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. The family law attorneys atFay, Farrow & Associates, P.C. in Naperville, Illinois, have a great deal of experience in divorce cases. You can call us today at 630-961-0060 to schedule a consultation.

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