Divorce changes your life. While it is the end of a partnership, it also changes your family structure, your financial situation, and the very nature of your way of life. This is particularly true for stay-at-home parents who often find themselves looking for work outside the home after a divorce in order to make ends meet.
One tool that can sometimes soften the blow of financial changes brought on by divorce is maintenance or spousal support. Historically it was also called “alimony.” However, no one is automatically entitled to maintenance. Instead, it is something that a judge may order under certain circumstances.
Illinois Law on Maintenance
Much like other areas of family law, maintenance or spousal support is governed by statute in Illinois. The statute allows courts to grant temporary or permanent maintenance to either spouse and for periods of time that the court deems just. However, the court is supposed to make these awards without regard to marital misconduct. The statute lists several factors that the court should consider when determining whether maintenance is appropriate. These factors include.
- Each party’s income and property;
- Each party’s needs;
- Each party’s present and future earning capacity;
- Whether a party’s current or future earning capacity has been affected by the dedication of his or her time to domestic duties, or by his or her delaying or foregoing of education or employment opportunities due to the marriage;
- How long it will take for the party seeking maintenance to obtain education, training, or employment, whether that party can support him or herself through employment, and whether the party is the custodian of a child and that status makes it appropriate for the party to not seek employment;
- The standard of living established during the marriage;
- The length of the marriage;
- Each party’s age and emotional condition;
- The tax consequences of the property division upon each party’s economic circumstances;
- Any contributions the support-seeking party made to the other party’s education, training, career or career maintenance, or licensing;
- Any valid agreement of the parties, like a prenuptial agreement; and
- Any other factor the court determines to be just and equitable.
How Much and for How Long?
Various factors affect the amount of maintenance ordered and the amount of time a party will be required to pay it. Factors include the parties’ incomes, whether a multiple family situation exists, and the length of the marriage. For parties in some situations there are specific statutory guidelines regarding maintenance, while in other cases the courts have more discretion. However, in any case involving maintenance, the court must state its reasoning for ordering or not ordering maintenance, and in doing so it must reference the relevant factors previously noted. Additionally, if the court deviates from the standard guidelines, it must explain its reasoning for doing so.
Call Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C. P.C. Today
Divorce is a difficult and often contentious process, specially seeking spousal maintenance. Therefore it is important to consult with an experienced Illinois family law lawyer at Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C. When you contact us we can go over the details of your specific situation and craft a legal strategy that is right for your particular circumstances. Call us now at (630) 756-5112. We look forward to speaking with you.