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Posted on in Alimony

alimony, St. Charles divorce attorneysAlimony, known as spousal maintenance in Illinois law, is used to help offset the financial effects of a divorce for a disadvantaged spouse. Depending upon the circumstances of your marriage, you, as the higher-earning spouse, may be required to make substantial payments to your ex-spouse which could potentially affect your own lifestyle and economic decisions. Understanding the law regarding maintenance obligations is an important part of planning for your post-divorce situation.

Is It Needed?

According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), spousal maintenance is not presumed to be necessary in every case. You and your spouse, of course, may reach an agreement regarding such payments, which will be honored by the court if the agreement is reasonable. In the absence of such an accord, however, the court will look at a number of factors to decide if alimony is appropriate. By law, these considerations include each spouse’s resources, earning potential, and needs, the length of the marriage, standard of living, contributions to one another’s career, and many others.

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Posted on in Alimony

spousal maintenance, Kane County divorce lawyerDespite the rise in divorce in American culture in the last few decades, there are still a number of pervasive misconceptions about the process and the laws that govern it. In many cases, these misunderstandings are the result of overly simplified, dramatic depictions of divorce in movies, television, and music. Among the most common misconceptions is the cultural notion of spousal maintenance, or alimony, and whether one spouse—traditionally the wife—is entitled to it.

History of Spousal Maintenance

Alimony laws have evolved over the years and have been particularly impacted by changes to the related statutes regarding asset division in divorce. Prior to 1977, Illinois law required property to be allocated in divorce according to the asset’s registered owner. In practice, this meant that most divorce situations left a husband with most of the property and the wife with very little. Therefore, courts frequently required the divorcing husband to make support payments, often on a permanent basis.

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spousal maintenance, Kane County divorce attorneysWhen you are going through a divorce, there are a number of important considerations to be made. You, your spouse, or both will probably have to find a new place to live. If you are a parent, you will need to develop a parental plan and a strategy for allocating parental responsibilities and parenting time. Of course, simply adjusting to life without your spouse can be a challenge all its own. However, some of the sensitive concerns in divorce revolve around finances and assets: how will the marital estate be divided and are you entitled to receive spousal maintenance payments?

According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, decisions regarding property and support in a divorce must be made on a case-by-case basis. If you and your spouse cannot reach a negotiated agreement, the court will identify and allocate your marital assets between you and determine if spousal maintenance is needed. In doing so, the court must take into account a number of factors regarding each. These factors include, but are not limited to:

  • The income, resources, and earning capacity of each spouse;
  • Each spouse’s role in marriage, how it contributed to the marital estate, and the impact on either spouse’s earning potential;
  • Length of the marriage and the lifestyle established;
  • How the allocated property or maintenance will affect tax liabilities;
  • Arrangements made for the couple’s children; and
  • The existence of any prenuptial or postnuptial agreement between the parties.

Each Can Affect the Other

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Posted on in Alimony

spousal maintenance, Kane County divorce lawyersDepending upon the circumstances surrounding your marriage and divorce, you may feel that you should be entitled to spousal maintenance payments from your ex-spouse. Unlike child support, spousal support is not presumed to be appropriate in every situation. Instead, Illinois law requires each case to be weighed on its own merits to determine if the need for such supports actually exists. This means that, if you think may be entitled to recieve maintenance, you will need to explicitly request that relief from the court.

Marital Conduct Not a Factor

Unless you and your spouse included behavior clauses in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, the court will not consider the conduct of either party when deciding whether to award maintenance. While your spouse’s behavior may leave you feeling like he or she owes you some type of restitution, the law in Illinois specifically prohibits marital misconduct from being a factor in maintenance proceedings. Spousal support is meant to help you meet your financial needs and obligations, and is not intended to be used as a punitive measure against your spouse.

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Posted on in Alimony

spousal support, alimony, Kane County Family LawyerIf you are currently paying spousal maintenance or alimony, as it is often known, you have probably wondered, at some point, how long such payments will need to continue. As with most aspects of divorce, the answer depends on the circumstances of your situation and those of your ex-spouse. In some cases, based upon the terms of judgment for dissolution of marriage, your payments may continue for a pre-determined number of months or years; in others, they may be extended based on appropriateness and need. Finally, the actions and decisions of the party who is receiving maintenance can also have a direct impact on the continuation of support payments.

New or Recently Modified Maintenance Orders

At the beginning of 2015, new guidelines for the calculation of spousal maintenance went into effect in Illinois. In situations where the parties’ combined income is under $250,000, the duration of most maintenance orders is determined as a percentage of the length of the marriage. The percentages are provided in the law, and are weighted such that longer marriages result in a relatively longer period of maintenance. For example, if maintenance was found to be appropriate following the dissolution of a marriage that lasted 12 years, the specified percentage would be 60 percent. Thus, the resulting maintenance order would be effective for 7.2 years, or about 86 months.

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