Fixed-Term Spousal Maintenance an Option for Illinois Courts
Spousal maintenance, or alimony, is frequently utilized in divorce cases to limit the financial impact to a spouse who, based on the circumstances of the marriage, is not prepared to become immediately self-sufficient. While post-divorce life is rarely easy for either spouse, a partner who had assumed more domestic responsibilities or had lower or no income may find it virtually impossible to survive without the financial support that a maintenance award provides.
New provisions were enacted under Illinois law this year which, for the first time, provided a formulaic standard regarding the calculation of spousal maintenance orders. Previous versions of the law left every detail to the discretion of the court, which eventually led to disparity in awards depending on the judge assigned to the case. The new law sought to remove much of the inconsistency, while still leaving some significant responsibility with the individual court.
Spousal Maintenance Basics
The court remains fully responsible for determining the necessity of a support order, based on the specific circumstances of the case. Once deemed to be appropriate, maintenance is to be calculated using the formulas regarding amount and duration provided in the updated statute. Deviations from the recommendations are statutorily permitted at the discretion of the court with appropriate justification.
In establishing the duration of a support award, the court is required to balance several factors. Primarily, the law provides a specific guideline for duration as a percentage of the length of the marriage. However, among the circumstances the court must consider are the ability and requirements for the spouse receiving support to become self-sufficient. As such, a standard spousal maintenance award does not preclude a spouse from seeking extensions while working toward that goal.
Under the new provisions of the law, the court now has the authority to prohibit motions for extensions by establishing a fixed-term spousal maintenance award in certain situations. Permitted only in cases in which the marriage lasted less than ten years, the court may designate the end of the maintenance period to be a permanent termination. Such an order is based on the premise that the lifestyle established in a shorter marriage is unlikely to require extensive support, and continuing to pursue extensions would have no legitimate justification.
Find the Help You Need
The circumstances of your divorce are unique, and you deserve representation from a lawyer who understands your needs. If you believe that you are entitled to spousal maintenance, contact an experienced Geneva divorce attorney today to schedule a consultation. Our team will help you understand your options and work with you throughout every step of the divorce process.