Thomas Dowd (defendant) and his wife (plaintiff) were married. In November 1985, Dowd’s wife moved out of the marital home. Dowd’s wife returned to the home in May 1986, but slept on the couch. The couple often had dinner together, but only for the sake of their son. In June 1988, Dowd’s wife filed a petition for no-fault divorce based on an Illinois law that allowed no-fault divorce if a couple demonstrates that the couple lived “separate and apart” for at least two years. This was the third divorce proceeding that Dowd’s wife had filed during the course of her marriage with Dowd. The circuit court granted the wife’s petition for a no-fault divorce. Dowd appealed, arguing that the law required that spouses live physically separate and apart for at least two years and that this requirement was not met in this case.