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Should I Expect to Pay Spousal Maintenance?

Posted on in Maintenance/Alimony

b2ap3_thumbnail_divorce-keep-last-name_640.jpgOne of the most common questions that those who are facing a divorce often have is whether or not alimony will be ordered in the divorce judgment. In many cases, alimony—or maintenance as it is known in Illinois—is a point of serious contention with each spouse’s opinion in direct opposition to that of the other. If you are considering a divorce, there are some things that you should know about maintenance awards and how such decisions are made under Illinois law.

A Brief History

The entire purpose of spousal maintenance is to help alleviate the impact of divorce on a financially disadvantaged spouse. In past generations, alimony was virtually a standard component of many divorce proceedings. This was due to the fact that in a large percentage of marriages, one spouse—usually the husband—was the primary or sole source of income. The other spouse—usually the wife—often worked much less, if at all, focusing instead on household and child-rearing duties. When such a couple divorced, it was nearly impossible for the lower-earning spouse to support herself, especially if she was also granted custody of the couple’s children. Therefore, a divorce judgment often obligated the higher-earning spouse to provide financial support either permanently or until the other spouse could become self-sufficient.

Maintenance Is Not Guaranteed

Today, however, the landscape of the modern marriage has changed significantly compared to that in previous generations. More and more couple rely on the income of both spouses, and each spouse is often better equipped to support him- or herself. As a reflection of evolving social norms, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution Marriage Act provides that maintenance is not presumed to be necessary in any divorce situation. Instead, absent an agreement between the spouses, the court may only order maintenance if it finds that a need for such support exists.

To determine a spouse’s need, the court will consider a number of factors, including:

  • Each spouse’s income and resources, including the property each will receive in the divorce;
  • Each spouse’s current and realist future earning capacity, and any impairment of earning ability;
  • The needs of each spouse;
  • Whether the party seeking maintenance can become self-supporting and how long it may take;
  • The length of the marriage and the standard of living established;
  • Each spouse’s age, health, and employability; and
  • The contributions of the spouse seeking maintenance to the other spouse’s career and earning capacity.

Once the appropriateness of a maintenance award has been established, the court must determine the amount of the maintenance payments and the for how long they will continue. The law also includes guidelines for doing so, which will be addressed in an upcoming post.

Questions About Maintenance?

If you would like to learn more about the law regarding spousal maintenance in Illinois, contact an experienced Kane County divorce attorney. We will answer your questions and help you understand your options. Call 847-426-1866 or 630-945-8807 for a confidential consultation with a member of our team today.



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