Tag Archives: Spousal Support

IL divorce lawyerIn an Illinois divorce, one spouse may seek spousal maintenance, also known as alimony. Spousal maintenance is intended to help one person in the divorce become financially stable so that in the future, they are able to support themselves. In many cases, one spouse may have given up their job to stay home and care for the children, go back to school, or another endeavor that kept them from working. Although in some cases, a judge may award one spouse alimony on a permanent basis, these cases are very rare. Truthfully, there are instances in which alimony can be terminated in the state, and it is important that both the receiver and the payer know when this may occur.

When Either Party Dies

When either spouse dies, spousal maintenance is terminated. Naturally, if the payer dies, they are no longer able to pay alimony, and if the receiver dies, they no longer need it.

When the Recipient Remarries

Spousal maintenance is only intended to help one spouse get back on their feet financially after a divorce. When a recipient of alimony gets married to another person, the court will assume that there is now another income to help support the recipient. As such, a judge will usually terminate a previous alimony order at that time. The termination will likely not occur until the remarriage is final.

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IL divorce lawyerPeople going through a divorce have to think about the many different terms they will have to sort through, whether it is during mediation meetings or through litigation. One of the most common terms that comes up during a divorce case is spousal maintenance. Spousal maintenance is shrouded in many myths and misconceptions, so if you are going through a divorce, it is important to understand the truth behind this common term. To help with this, below are some of the most common questions about spousal maintenance, and the answers to them.

Are Spousal Maintenance and Alimony the Same Thing?

Yes. Although the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act uses the term ‘spousal maintenance’ when talking about payments one spouse will make to the other after divorce, it has the same purpose as alimony.

Does the Lower-Earning Spouse Always Receive Spousal Maintenance?

No. Getting a divorce does not automatically give the lower-earning spouse the right to spousal maintenance. Spousal maintenance is awarded when a judge deems that it is appropriate for a specific situation and orders one spouse to make payments to the other following the divorce. A judge will consider 13 specific factors when determining whether to award spousal maintenance. These include the age, health, needs, vocational skills, and income, as well as the length of the marriage, and the parent that has custody of the children.

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IL divorce lawyerThe word divorce is often associated with short marriages that were the result of a spontaneous weekend but truthfully, a marriage of any length can end in divorce. When a couple gets divorced after a long marriage, they will likely face issues that may not be present when a couple divorces after only being married for a short time. Below are the three most common issues that come up in divorce cases when a couple has been married for a long time.

Complex Property Division Issues

Property division is a complex issue in any divorce, but the matter becomes particularly complicated when the couple has been married for a long time. Property division relies on dividing marital property between separate property, and this is difficult after a long marriage. Over time, a couple’s separate property is likely to become commingled in joint bank accounts, meaning it may be subject to property division rules, even though it is separate property.

Other property division matters also become more complicated when a couple has been married for a long time. For example, both spouses may have accumulated savings in retirement accounts, and these must also be divided. If the spouses have an estate plan, it is also important to change these, as it is likely that the spouses named each other as beneficiaries.

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IL divorce lawyerUnlike 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.

Marital Misconduct Is Not Considered

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.

Lower Earning Potential

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.

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IL divorce lawyerWhen spousal maintenance is awarded in an Illinois divorce case, one spouse is ordered to pay the other financial support once the divorce is finalized. Spousal maintenance is one of the most hotly contested aspects of divorce, and it is also very misunderstood. Some believe only men are ordered to pay maintenance, while others believe that they will receive payments forever. These are just two of the most common myths surrounding spousal maintenance. The truths behind them are included with the top six misconceptions below.

Spousal Maintenance Is Permanent

Maintenance is only intended to help someone get back on their feet financially once the divorce is finalized. Once the recipient reenters the job market or can fully support themselves, the other may petition the court to stop the support payments. In other instances, maintenance may last for an even shorter amount of time, such as when the spouses are still going through the divorce and before it is finalized.

The Terms of Maintenance Are Permanent

Even while a person continues to make maintenance payments, the terms of the order can be modified. For example, a person paying maintenance may lose their job, or the recipient may get a better job. Both of these situations would change the financial capability of one party, which could result in the court modifying a maintenance order.

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