It seems as if everyone is getting divorced nowadays: young couples, those who have been married 50 years or more, celebrities, and politicians. Despite the rise in divorce rates across many different demographics, there are still many misconceptions that people have with regard to the divorce process. Many of these mistaken beliefs are the product of the divorce process being over-simplified or dramatized for television or movies. One of the most common misunderstandings for many people is their concept of spousal maintenance, also known as alimony.
History of Spousal Maintenance
Throughout the years, alimony laws have evolved as society has changed. Before 1977, Illinois law required property to be allocated in divorces according to the asset’s owner. This often left a husband with substantially more property than the wife. To combat this inequity, courts frequently required the husband to make support payments to his former wife in the form of alimony. In 1977, the concept of “marital property” was created. This meant that property was now more equally divided and spousal maintenance was awarded less often. There have been many small updates and changes to spousal maintenance statutes since then, each for the purpose of clarifying when and if a situation required spousal support.
How Spousal Maintenance Is Awarded
Under Illinois law, neither spouse is automatically entitled to spousal maintenance. Each case is considered individually by the court. The courts take a number of factors into account when making decisions about spousal maintenance, including:
- Any valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement;
- Each spouse’s age, health, skills, jobs, and employability;
- The income and resources of each spouse, including property being allocated in the divorce;
- The length of the marriage;
- Each spouse’s realistic current and future earning capacity, or each person’s capacity of acquiring wealth. This includes how the marriage and domestic duties impacted each spouse’s earning capacity;
- The standard of living each spouse enjoyed while married; and
- Contributions made by the spouse seeking maintenance to the education, career, training and overall employability of the other spouse.
The court considers each of these factors, along with any others found to be relevant, and then determines if spousal maintenance is appropriate. If deemed appropriate, the law provides a basic formula for calculating the amount of support which will be awarded and the duration the maintenance will be awarded.
Let Us Help
If you have further questions about spousal maintenance or are considering getting a divorce, our experienced Kane County family law attorneys are ready to help. Call 630-377-7770 to schedule a free consultation at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. today.