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Geneva divorce attorneyWhen 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.

“Any Impairment…”

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.

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:

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