A 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.