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Unlike child support in Illinois, spousal maintenance is not awarded in every divorce case. A judge will weigh every case on its own merits and determine whether a need for maintenance exists. If you believe that you deserve spousal maintenance as part of your divorce, it is important to review some important factors to determine if you are eligible, and then explicitly ask the judge to consider awarding you spousal maintenance.
When one spouse’s wrongdoing contributed to the breakdown of the marriage, such as if they had an affair, the other spouse often thinks that is enough to obtain spousal maintenance. This is not true. Spousal maintenance is intended to help you if the divorce will leave you in financial hardship. Illinois law specifically prohibits judges from considering marital misconduct when making determinations about spousal maintenance. Although misconduct may play a part in other aspects of the divorce, such as property division, it is not a consideration in maintenance decisions.
While marital misconduct is not considered in spousal maintenance decisions, your earning potential is a factor. If, during the marriage, you were unable to reach your full earning potential, a judge will consider that when making maintenance decisions. For example, you may have planned to go to school to secure a better career but put those plans on hold so your spouse could pursue their lucrative career. In this case, a judge will likely determine that you contributed to your spouse’s earning capacity and so, award you spousal maintenance. Although in this scenario maintenance may be only temporary until you can increase your earning potential, it will help with your case.
The courts recognize that each spouse should be able to maintain a certain amount of stability after your divorce. If you enjoyed a high standard of living during your marriage and you can no longer enjoy that same lifestyle on your own after divorce, a judge will take that into consideration. For example, if the marital home you and your spouse lived in was spacious and had many amenities, you could argue that it is unfair for a judge to expect you to live in a small one-bedroom apartment that has few amenities. Although your standard of living during the marriage is not the only factor a judge will consider when deciding whether or not to award spousal maintenance, it is definitely one of them.
If you are getting a divorce and wish to secure spousal maintenance, or you need to defend against unfair claims for maintenance, our skilled Hinsdale divorce lawyers can help. At the Law Office of Martoccio & Martoccio, our experienced attorneys can advise on your case and create strong arguments to present to a judge in regards to your case. If you are going through a divorce, call us today at 630-920-8855 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable attorneys.