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Geneva divorce attorneyWhen a couple gets divorced, Illinois law provides that one spouse may be ordered to make payments of maintenance—also known as alimony—to the other. The purpose of maintenance is to help a financially disadvantaged spouse better manage his or her post-divorce life. In many cases, the need for spousal support is understandable, especially in long marriages where one spouse sacrificed career advancement for the sake of the marriage and family responsibilities. But, what about couples who were only married a short time before getting divorced? Illinois law does not automatically eliminate the possibility of maintenance following a short marriage, but it does offer the court a fairly unique option.

Standard Maintenance Awards

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides a table that determines how long maintenance payments should continue if the court finds such support to be appropriate. To determing the length of the order, the court must multiply the length of the marriage by a predetermined percentage factor:

spousal support, spousal maintenance, Geneva divorce attorneySpousal 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.

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