A Spouse’s Supportive Role Considered in Maintenance Proceedings
When a couple gets divorced in Illinois, maintenance is not guaranteed for either spouse. Also known as alimony or spousal support, maintenance is only ordered by the court if such payments are found to be necessary and appropriate. In some cases, a divorcing couple will agree to maintenance terms on their own, and the court will typically approve these agreements as long as they are reasonable. When left up to the court, however, there must be a demonstrable need on the part of one spouse.
When determining whether award maintenance, the court must take into account more than a dozen factors, including each spouse’s age, health, income, earning potential, the length of the marriage, and the standard of living created during the union. Many of these factors address each spouse’s current situation, but according to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), there two specific considerations that deal with contributions and sacrifices made by a spouse in a supporting role as the primary homemaker or child-raiser.
The law in Illinois recognizes that it is not uncommon for one half of a married couple to give up certain education and career advancement opportunities for the sake of the marriage. That is why a divorce court judge must take into account “any impairment of the present or future earning capacity” of the spouse asking for maintenance due to him or her “devoting time to domestic duties.” The court must also consider any “forgone or delayed education, training employment, or career opportunities due to the marriage.
In short, this means that if you were on a particular career path, but you and your spouse decided it would be better for you to stay home and raise your children, the impact to your earning ability must be accounted for. Similarly, if you gave up going to graduate school because of the role you played in your marriage, your sacrifice will be considered.
“Contributions and services…”
The IMDMA also requires the court to consider how you helped your spouse’s career and ability to generate income. Specifically, the court will look at any “contributions and services” you made “to the education, training, career or career potential, or license” of your spouse. But, what does that mean?
It means that if you took on a part-time, dead-end job just to make ends meet while your spouse was in school, that should be considered a contribution. If your spouse’s career advancement was dependent on him or her being able to travel regularly, your supportive roles of keeping the home and raising the children should be taken into account. Without your help, your spouse would not likely have achieved the same level of earning capacity.
Contact Us for Help
If you are considering asking for maintenance in your divorce, an experienced Geneva family law attorney can help you build your case. Call 630-232-9700 for a confidential consultation at The Law Offices of Douglas B. Warlick & Associates today.