Will I Have to Pay Spousal Maintenance in My Illinois Divorce?

Posted on in Spousal Support

Mt. Prospect divorce lawyer for spousal supportWhen 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.

No Guarantees

In today’s world, the average marriage looks much different than it did in the past. More households than ever before depend on both spouses’ incomes—with both spouses often working full-time. Therefore, each spouse is now better equipped to become financially independent in the event of a divorce. Of course, there may be situations in which maintenance is needed, but the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides that such support is not presumed or guaranteed. Instead—unless the spouses have reached their own agreement on the matter—the Court will only order spousal support based on a finding that there is a need for it.

In determining whether a need exists, the Court is required by law to take a variety of factors into account. These include:

  • The income and resources of each spouse, including the assets each will be allocated as a result of the divorce
  • The current and anticipated earning capacity of each spouse
  • Any impairments to either spouse’s ability to work
  • The age, health, and needs of each spouse
  • How long it will take the spouse asking for maintenance to become self-supporting
  • The length of the marriage
  • The standard of living during the marriage
  • Contributions made by the spouse asking for maintenance to the career and earning capacity of the other spouse

Once the Court has determined that maintenance is appropriate, the amount of the payments and the duration of the order must be established. In the majority of cases, the Court will use formulas provided in the law for each determination. The Court, however, has the discretion to deviate from the statutory guidelines if there is a valid reason for doing so.

Call a Palatine Spousal Maintenance Lawyer for Help

Spousal support is just one of the many issues that you will need to address in your divorce. At the Law Office of Nicholas W. Richardson, P.C., we provide trusted guidance and skilled representation in all aspects of the divorce process. Contact an experienced Arlington Heights divorce attorney today. Call 847.873.6741 for a free consultation.




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