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Although the coronavirus health crisis has impacted day-to-day living, everything is moving forward in the family law court system. In Illinois, non-essential businesses such as restaurants and shopping malls were closed temporarily but not the judiciary. While many changes have been implemented, the courts have remained open to the public. In light of the stress of being quarantined at home or the loss of income, COVID-19 has placed an enormous strain on relationships, leading many couples to consider filing for divorce. Therefore, if you are wondering if you can obtain a divorce at this time, the answer is absolutely yes.  

Virtual Meeting Options

In order to protect the safety of their clients, many law firms are offering digital services to meet their clients’ legal needs. In the practice area of divorce and family law, this may include consultations with couples over the phone or by video chat. For those firms such as Douglas B. Warlick & Assoc. that offer mediation as an alternative dispute resolution (ADR), spouses may speak with their third-party mediator through various electronic means. This may include video conferencing apps such as Zoom, Go-to Meetings, or FaceTime. However, at the Law Offices of Douglas B. Warlick & Assoc., we also continue to offer face-to-face meetings and personal mediation services, including Collaborative Law.

Posted on in Spousal Maintenance

Geneva family law attorneyWhen a married couple chooses to end their marriage through divorce, the court may award spousal support to one spouse. Spousal support is sometimes referred to as alimony or spousal maintenance. It refers to payments that one spouse makes to the other in order to help him or her maintain their quality of life after the marriage has ended. Spousal support can be based on an arrangement between the couple, a prenuptial agreement, or a decision by the court itself.

How Is Spousal Support Awarded?

Spousal support is similar to child support in that it is awarded to a person who needs income support from a former spouse. Unlike child support, which in most states is awarded according to very specific guidelines, courts have much more discretion in determining if spousal support is appropriate or not. The court also decides how much spousal support will be awarded and for how long payments will occur. Courts consider the following factors in making decisions about spousal support:

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:

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.

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