One of the many considerations that commonly arise during divorce is the issue of spousal support, which is also known as alimony or spousal maintenance. In years past, spousal support was more common than it is now, simply because our culture and society were different. In many cases, it was not uncommon for women, in particular, to stay home to raise children and take care of the household while the man worked outside of the home to financially support the family.
While this may have worked during the marriage, it tended to create financial dependence, causing issues if the couple ended up getting divorced. Rather than leaving the woman to fend for herself, spousal maintenance was created, requiring the working spouse to contribute a portion of his or her income to help support their former spouse until they can get back on their feet. In today’s world, spousal support is less common than it used to be, but it is still an issue that can arise, and it can lead to contentious disputes between divorcing spouses.
Awarding Spousal Support in Divorce
Spousal maintenance is not guaranteed in all Illinois divorces. There will be some cases in which spousal support would not be appropriate, such as if both spouses have jobs and earn enough income to support themselves. If the issue of spousal support is contested, a judge will determine if a spousal maintenance award is necessary. To do this, he or she will look at a variety of factors that may include things like you and your spouse’s income, each of your present and realistic earning capacities, how long your marriage lasted, and each of your needs....
In the wake of your divorce, the thought of rejoining the dating scene may seem unappealing and unrealistic, but as the months or years go by, you may find yourself longing for the companionship that you once had in past relationships. Many divorcees find a new partner without even looking through work, friends, or their involvement in the community. But just because you meet someone does not mean that you feel the need to get married again. Whether it is a result of trauma from your past marriage or simply a sense of content with your current situation, you may opt to be a lifelong partner rather than taking on the title “husband” or “wife” again. You may think that your dating life no longer concerns your former spouse; however, your new relationship can affect the details of your divorce agreement.
Most divorces include the payment of spousal maintenance, also known as alimony, from one spouse to the other. The purpose of this financial support is to ease the transition from sharing finances throughout your marriage to becoming financially independent. When the court determines the details of spousal maintenance, they typically leave the payment period open-ended. This does not mean, however, that the payments are completely indefinite. There are a number of factors that can lead to the termination of spousal maintenance, including cohabitation with a new partner. This does not mean that if you move in with a friend or roommate, your former spouse will no longer owe you alimony. Once you have moved in with a new partner “on a resident, continuing conjugal basis,” the paying party can request to terminate his or her financial support obligations....
Although all divorces may have some things in common, each case is unique depending on the couple. Some spouses mutually agree to legally end their marriage while in other cases, one partner is blindsided by the breakup. Typically, there are several issues that must be addressed before the divorce is considered final. According to Illinois law, marital property is subject to equitable distribution, which means possessions are divided fairly but not exactly 50/50. This also includes any outstanding debt the couple may have acquired throughout their marriage. Another aspect that is considered is whether one spouse is entitled to spousal maintenance or support, which is also known as alimony. Financial support of this nature allows one party to maintain a certain standard of living after the divorce until he or she can secure employment and become financially independent.
Spousal Support Guidelines
As of January 1, 2019, the rules governing spousal maintenance in Illinois changed. If a couple cannot reach an agreement on spousal support payments, then the court will get involved. The court will consider all relevant factors to come up with a duration and an amount that is appropriate, including the length of the marriage, each party’s income level, as well as his or her future earning potential....
When you are facing the possibility of a divorce, you are likely to have many questions. Where will you live? Who will get the furniture? How will you share parenting responsibilities for your children? All of these, of course, are very valid questions. Many who are considering a divorce may also wonder if they will be ordered to pay alimony—known as “spousal maintenance” under Illinois law. If you are headed for a divorce, it is important to understand how maintenance-related decisions are made in Illinois.
A Brief Background
Spousal maintenance, in general, is intended to help minimize the effects of a divorce on a spouse who is at a comparative financial disadvantage. In previous generations, alimony payments were practically standard in most divorce cases, because a significant percentage of households relied on the income of just one spouse—most often the husband. Meanwhile, the other spouse—most often the wife—usually worked substantially less, if she worked at all. Instead, her primary role was to maintain the family home and care for the couple's children.
When this type of “traditional” couple got divorced, it was effectively impossible for the spouse with hardly any income to support herself, especially if she was given primary custody of the children. As a result, the couple’s divorce judgment generally contained provisions that required the higher-earning spouse to make support payments. Such payments could be temporary or permanent based on whether the lower-earning spouse could eventually support herself....
Divorce can be an emotional process, and it also involves a wide variety of legal issues that can be difficult to understand. Both of these factors can cause people to make mistakes that may not only result in unfavorable decisions, but they can also make the divorce process more expensive. If you are going through a divorce, avoiding the following mistakes is crucial in order to protect your financial interests and future.
The stress of separating from your partner, when combined with the anger, sadness, or resentment you may be feeling, can result in fights that will not help your case. For example, you may argue about certain marital property based on a desire to win arguments with your spouse rather than out of a real need to keep these assets. Doing this can draw out the divorce process unnecessarily, resulting in higher costs that may leave you in a more difficult financial position following your divorce. While you may have to fight for what is rightfully yours, you should be sure to understand when these types of disputes will be necessary, and when they will be financially beneficial....
When you are going through a divorce, you will want to work with an attorney who can help you secure a fair settlement and make the process as easy as possible. However, you do not need just any attorney; you need the lawyer who is right for your case. Although there are many good divorce lawyers in Illinois, you will want to find someone you are comfortable with who can address your unique concerns and help you complete the divorce process successfully. You will want to ask your divorce lawyer following questions:
Have You Handled Many Cases Like Mine?
No two divorce cases are alike. You may need to address a variety of complex issues, such as a high net worth, child custody disputes, or potential dissipation of assets by your spouse. You might expect your divorce to be contested, or you may plan to reach an amicable settlement with your spouse using methods such as mediation. You will want to be sure the attorney you ultimately hire should is experienced in handling the issues you will need to address.
How Will We Communicate During the Divorce?
Attorneys tend to have preferred methods of communication, and you will want to be sure you are comfortable discussing your case in this manner. Whether you prefer to communicate via email, phone, or text messages, you will want to establish a plan for how you will send information, ask questions, and receive updates....
Under Illinois law, gender is not a factor that should be considered when deciding a divorce case; however, some may fear that the decisions made during divorce will favor their ex-spouse, and they will want to understand their rights and the best ways to achieve success during the divorce process. Below are some of the biggest myths that still surround men and divorce and the truth behind them:
When Men Do Not Pay Child Support, They Cannot See Their Child
Fathers may worry that if they fall behind on child support payments, the mother may be able to refuse to allow them to spend time with their child. Fortunately, this is not the case. There are serious consequences for not paying child support, including being held in contempt of court. However, the courts view child custody and child support as two separate issues, and a mother cannot punish a father for non-payment of child support by restricting parenting time. If a parent withholds visitation because their ex-spouse did not pay child support, she/he can face serious consequences themselves.
Mothers Are Always Awarded Primary Child Custody
This is perhaps the biggest myth surrounding men and divorce. Although it is true that at one time, the courts were more likely to award child custody to mothers, this is no longer the case. Today, decisions about child custody are based on what is in the child’s best interests. The gender of the two spouses has nothing to do with child custody hearings. Instead, courts will consider factors such as the health of the parents, the children’s wishes, and how parents acted in the past when providing care for their children....
Most people know how much income they earn in a month or a year. Sometimes, however, determining the actual amount of income can become complicated. For example, what if you are an independent contractor, and your income is constantly in flux? Or, what if you are receiving Social Security benefits? These are just two situations in which determining how much income you have becomes tricky. However, your income will play a vital role in divorce proceedings, particularly when finalizing terms regarding child support and spousal maintenance. So, how do you define your income in divorce proceedings? In Illinois, these determinations are based on three different statutes: the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA), the Income Withholding for Support Act, and the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA).
The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act
The UIFSA governs financial support obligations for divorced spouses who live in different states, and it has the broadest definition of income. Under the UIFSA, income is considered any earnings or property subject to withholding for support.
To understand this vague definition, you must first determine what income and other property is subject to withholding for support. This is outlined in the Income Withholding for Support Act....
Getting an uncontested divorce sounds fairly simple. In fact, these are typically the least complicated divorces in Illinois because both spouses agree to the terms of the divorce; however, this type of divorce isn’t always straightforward or uncomplicated. Any couple facing a divorce, even one that is uncontested, is going to have questions. Below are the five most common issues that come up in uncontested divorces:
Can We Use the Same Lawyer?
One lawyer representing both sides in any legal matter is a major conflict of interest. While both spouses may consult with a single attorney as they proceed with the divorce process, the attorney can only represent one spouse during the divorce proceedings. In order to ensure that both parties’ rights are protected, you and your spouse should use different attorneys that will represent each party’s separate interests. Even during an uncontested divorce, you will need legal advice on the steps to take and an advocate who will stand up for your rights.
How Long Does an Uncontested Divorce Take?
This will depend on the timelines followed in your local family court, which can range from as little as two weeks to up to two months. In addition to the court timelines, there are other factors that will affect how long your divorce will take. These include the court’s schedule and how long it takes:...
The completion of divorce proceedings has an air of finality. The marriage is officially over, the sometimes long and drawn out divorce process is finished, and both parties can move on with their lives. However, just because a divorce is final does not mean those involved will live by their divorce decree forever. Like everything else in life, the terms of a divorce often change, sometimes years after they were finalized.
Remarriage is one of the biggest reasons the terms of a divorce will change. When one of the ex-spouses gets remarried, both parties will want to consider how spousal maintenance and child support will be affected.
Remarriage and Maintenance in Illinois
Generally speaking, when a person who is receiving maintenance gets remarried, their former spouse will no longer be required to pay alimony. The only exception is when the two parties have come to another agreement. The person making alimony payments can stop doing so upon the date of the remarriage. They do not have to return to court or ask for an order of termination of support....
Hollywood is accustomed to ugly divorces. In 2018, Jersey Shore actor Jenni “JWoww” Farley filed for divorce from her husband, Roger Matthews, and now Matthews is contesting the validity of the couple’s prenuptial agreement. While the concerns of reality TV stars do not apply to most of us, any couple can have a prenuptial agreement. If you are going through a divorce, and you have a prenup, you will want to be sure to understand how Illinois law will apply to your case, including whether your prenuptial agreement can be contested.
Prenuptial Agreement Laws in Illinois
The Illinois Uniform Premarital Agreement Act governs all prenuptial agreements filed in the state of Illinois. This law states that to be enforceable, both parties must agree to the prenup and sign it. The agreement will go into effect on the couple’s wedding day.
The Illinois statute includes some provisions on what is unlawful to include in a prenuptial agreement. These include any terms that violate public policy or criminal statutes. Spouses are also not allowed to waive the right to receive child support or agree that a parent will not be required to pay his or her child support obligations....