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Kane County divorce lawyerA few weeks ago, a post on this blog discussed how an obligation for spousal maintenance—sometimes called alimony—is to be calculated during a divorce in Illinois. Maintenance is intended to ease the economic impact of a divorce on a spouse at a relative financial disadvantage. But what if the financial disadvantage is somewhat self-imposed? What if the lower earning spouse could be earning more but is choosing not to do so? It may come as a surprise to learn that the court in Illinois is empowered to take action in such cases and to make a decision that is equitable to both parties.

What the Law Says

According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, a court is expected to take into account the income, resources, and employability of each spouse when deciding if maintenance is needed. The law also provides a formula to be used in cases where the couple’s combined income is less than $250,000 and there are no support obligations from a previous relationship. A recent appellate court ruling, however, upheld a lower court’s decision to add to a spouse’s individual income based on his marketable skills and employability, due to the fact that he was earning significantly less than his potential.

Kane County divorce attorneyAs you approach the process of divorce, you, undoubtedly, will have many questions. You are likely to wonder how arrangements for your children will be made and who will get what property when everything is divided between you and your spouse. It is also common for spouses—especially those who make more than their partners—to have concerns about spousal maintenance and how much they may be required to pay following the divorce.

Maybe, Maybe Not

The first thing you should know about maintenance—or alimony, as it is sometimes called—is that it is not guaranteed in divorce. Each case is handled by the court on an individual basis. Of course, the court may look to previous rulings for established precedents, but in awarding maintenance, the court must determine that an actual need exists. To determine the need, the court will look at numerous factors, including the length of the marriage, each spouse’s age, health, income, and employability, and the contributions of each spouse to the marriage and to each other’s earning capacity.

Geneva family law attorneyWhen you are faced with the possibility of a divorce, dozens of questions start to race through your head. You are likely to be wondering how you will tell your children, where you will live, and how you will make life after divorce work for you. For many people, issues of money are often the most pressing. How can a spouse who has relied on his or her partner financially for many years be expected to suddenly support him- or herself when the marriage ends? In Illinois, such a spouse may not have to do so, but nothing regarding alimony is guaranteed in advance.

Need-Based Considerations

Alimony is now known under Illinois law as maintenance. It is often referred to as spousal support as well. Whatever you may choose to call it, such awards are intended to alleviate the financial effects of a divorce on a spouse who may be an economic disadvantage. There is more to a maintenance case, however, than just money. Otherwise, any time that one spouse makes more than the other, the lower-earning spouse could expect to receive support following a divorce. Instead, the court will look at a number of factors that take into account the entire marital and divorce situation.

Geneva family law attorneyDivorcing couples usually have a number of questions and concerns about spousal maintenance (alimony) when they begin to address financial arrangements at the end of the marriage. One of the most pressing questions for most spouses is whether or not they are eligible for alimony at all, and if so, how that decision is reached.

Circumstantial Factors

It is understandable to want to know how much you must pay your spouse or how much you are eligible to receive, but the answers to these questions are not cut and dry. The court handles spousal maintenance on a case-by-case basis, taking a number of factors into consideration to first determine whether or not alimony is appropriate. Illinois law examines all of the following factors before deciding to grant an alimony award to either spouse:

prenuptial agreement, Geneva family law attorneyEvery year, thousands of couples throughout Illinois formally legalize their relationship through the institution of marriage. As the average age of first marriage continues to rise, along with the increasing rate of remarriage, prenuptial agreements are also becoming more common than ever. In many ways, this makes sense, as today’s single men and women have had more time to earn money and accumulate assets than in generations where younger marriage was prevalent. Remarriage, of course, presents its own challenges, including children from a previous relationship and increased focus on retirement and estate planning, and prenuptial agreements are advisable for these types of situations as well.

Agreements Regarding Maintenance

Spousal maintenance, or alimony, as it is sometimes called, is one of the most common issues addressed in a prenuptial agreement. A couple may agree, before ever getting married, that maintenance either should or should not be paid in the event of a divorce. They may also address criteria under which maintenance would be required—such as a so-called lifestyle clause or an infidelity penalty clause. Should the couple get divorced, the court presiding over the proceedings is required to take into account any valid agreement between the parties, including prenuptial agreements that address spousal maintenance.

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