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.
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....