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Rolling Meadows alimony attorney tax issuesGetting divorced may be the right move for the health and happiness of both spouses, but financially, this decision can be devastating. The divorce process itself is expensive for many couples, and rearranging finances after years of sharing responsibility is no easy task. Making this transition is extremely difficult for all spouses, but those facing financial disadvantages are at risk of suffering irreparable fiscal damage by leaving the marriage. Spouses in this situation may have the option of asking for spousal maintenance (formerly known as alimony) from the other spouse if his or her financial means are more lucrative and stable.

Spouses who are returning to work after years or decades of absence will likely struggle to maintain an acceptable standard of living post-divorce, and decisions about spousal maintenance are frequently settled via negotiation or mediation. However, resolving this matter is about to get much more complicated and volatile, as a new tax law goes into effect on January 1, 2019, that will completely upend the treatment of spousal support. This change will greatly disincentivize a paying spouse from agreeing to this support, and it will greatly increase the likelihood of litigation to determine whether alimony will be required. 

Tax Changes

Paying spousal maintenance is a significant financial burden for most people. Under the current tax laws, a person may deduct alimony payments from their federal income taxes, thereby reducing the payor’s overall tax liability. The former spouse receiving spousal support is currently required to report this money as income.

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Posted on in Child Support

spousal support modification, spousal support, Palatine family law attorney, Illinois divorce, divorce processFinances during and after divorce are a concern for many when adjusting to single life on one income. While this change is challenging for those with established careers and secure employment, those who worked only part-time or stayed at home to raise children face a daunting task that is likely to extend into the foreseeable future.

To make this transition easier and to ward off the possibility of falling into destitution following divorce, a spouse has the right to request spousal support or maintenance from the other party. Some couples settle this issue in advance by executing a prenuptial agreement. However, the majority of couples do not address this issue until the marriage is coming to an end, especially if the parties married young or before a spouse achieved financial success in his or her career.

The founder of the Cancer Treatment Centers of America was recently ordered by an Illinois Court to pay his ex-wife $28,000 per month in spousal support, substantially down from the $400,000 she requested. For the party ordered to pay support, this obligation can feel like a never-ending burden that permanently keeps him or her tied to an ex-spouse. However, in some cases, spousal support orders can be modified, or even terminated, if the circumstances are right.

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Barrington family law attorney, spousal maintenance awardsTransitioning from a two-income household down to one, following divorce, is a large adjustment for most individuals. In most instances, though, each party is able to financially support himself or herself, excluding child support, without contribution from the former spouse. However, maintenance, or spousal support, is sometimes necessary to sustain a former spouse while he or she, for example, gains new skills or training to make him or her more employable.

Illinois amended the laws on spousal maintenance in 2015 to make these awards more predictable by removing any subjectivity on the amount and duration of the maintenance obligation — although, a Court's obligation to first determine if maintenance is appropriate remains the same. A set formula now determines how much and for how long maintenance awards will be, and only marriages of 20 years or more are eligible for permanent maintenance, which is left to the Court's discretion to decide.

However, even though maintenance awards are easier to predict under the new provisions, changes may occur once the Court order is in place that justify a modification or cancellation. Someone subject to pay maintenance should not be locked into this obligation if circumstances make this arrangement untenable or unfair.

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Illinois spousal maintenance, Palatine divorce attorneysWhen a judge issues a spousal maintenance or spousal support order, one spouse must pay a certain amount of money on a regular basis to the other spouse. You only receive maintenance if the judge decides that you need it and your spouse has the ability to pay it. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) contains uniform guidelines for spousal maintenance orders in Illinois divorce proceedings. The goal of the guidelines is to make spousal maintenance awards in divorce more consistent and to let you know what to expect if you get spousal maintenance in your Illinois divorce.

Application of the Spousal Maintenance Guidelines

The spousal maintenance guidelines apply only when the judge already decided that maintenance is appropriate. To determine whether spousal maintenance is appropriate in your case, the judge must consider several factors, including the following for both parties:

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Posted on in Divorce

calculating spousal support, Palatine Family Law AttorneyThe calculation of spousal maintenance, or alimony, has become increasingly inconsistent in recent years due to the large amount of discretion given to individual judges in assigning awards. However, in 2014, the Illinois legislature passed an amendment to the state’s alimony law. The new law works to limit individual judges’ discretion in alimony awards by providing judges with a specific set of spousal maintenance guidelines to follow when making their rulings.

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act

Prior to the passage of the amendments to the Marriage Act, Judges determined whether a spouse was entitled to alimony based on factors listed in the Illinois statutes. These factors included:

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cohabitation and alimony payments, Palatine Spousal Support AttorneyAwarding alimony to stay-at-home parents that terminates when their youngest child turns 18, or when they remarry — whichever comes first — is not an uncommon action by the Court. Not wanting to lose alimony payments, however, some decide to never marry again and intend on receiving the alimony payments for the duration of their entire lives.

But what if a spouse who receives alimony moves in and establishes a relationship with a new partner that is akin to marriage, minus the official papers? Can alimony be terminated?

Modification of Palatine Alimony Award Based on Cohabitation

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