What Is the Purpose of Spousal Maintenance in Illinois?

Kane County, IL alimony lawyerThere are many reasons why a couple may choose to get a divorce, but in some cases, a spouse may be hesitant to leave their marriage because they are concerned about their ability to provide for themself on their own. If one spouse’s income covered the majority of the family’s expenses, the other spouse may worry that they will not have the resources to maintain their standard of living or even meet their basic needs. Historically, this concern most often applies to women, because they are the spouse most likely to give up career opportunities to raise children; however, it applies equally to men as well. 

Income disparities between spouses may be addressed during the divorce process through spousal maintenance, which is also known as spousal support or alimony. To ensure that this issue and other legal and financial concerns will be addressed correctly during the divorce process, a spouse should work with an attorney who can advocate for his or her interests.

Understanding Spousal Support in Illinois

Spousal maintenance may not be a factor in some divorces. If both spouses earn income at similar levels, it is likely that they will both be considered self-supporting, and neither spouse will need financial assistance from the other. However, if there is a large income disparity between the spouses, the spouse who earns a higher income may be required to pay ongoing financial support to his former partner.

How Long Does Spousal Support Last?

In some cases, temporary spousal support may be awarded. This support is paid during the divorce process, and it provides a spouse with assistance as the couple establishes new living arrangements and makes changes to their lives. “Permanent” spousal maintenance may be established in a couple’s divorce decree for long-term marriages, and it will continue to be paid after the divorce is finalized. But in most cases, fixed-term support will be paid, and it will only last for a specified period of time. The duration of fixed-term spousal support will depend on how long a couple was married. 

In some situations, other solutions may be used, such as making spousal maintenance reviewable after a certain amount of time. In these cases, a judge will consider whether support is still necessary and then order that maintenance will continue to be paid or modify or terminate the support obligations. In rare cases, indefinite spousal support may be awarded, and it will have no end date. Indefinite support will typically only be appropriate if a couple has been married for over 20 years or if the recipient has a disability or other issues that prevent them from earning enough income to cover their ongoing needs.

How Do I Know If I Will Get Alimony?

There is no single specific factor that determines whether spousal maintenance will or will not be awarded. Instead, Illinois law outlines multiple issues that may be considered to determine whether one spouse has a need for ongoing assistance and whether the other spouse has the ability to make payments. 

A judge may consider:

  • The amount of income each spouse currently earns, as well as their earning capacity, or the income they should be able to earn based on their education and work experience;
  • Each spouse’s needs, including any issues that may limit the ability to work and earn sufficient income, such as child custody arrangements in which a parent will stay at home with the couple’s children most of the time;
  • Whether the spouse seeking support made sacrifices to their career during the couple’s marriage in order to focus on family responsibilities and whether they made any contributions to the other spouse’s education or career
  • Any other relevant factors to help determine fair arrangements that will allow each party to address ongoing needs and maintain a standard of living similar to what they enjoyed while married

Contact Our St. Charles Spousal Maintenance Lawyers

During a divorce, the issue of spousal support can be complex, and it can lead to disputes when spouses disagree about whether ongoing support payments will be appropriate. At Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC., our Kane County spousal support lawyers can help our clients address this issue and advocate for solutions that will meet their needs. 

Whether you believe that you should receive spousal maintenance or are being asked to pay spousal support, we can advise you on how Illinois law will apply in your case, and we will help you resolve disputes related to these or other divorce-related matters. Contact us today at 630-665-7300 to set up an initial attorney meeting and learn more about how we can assist you.

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In honor of the passing of our founder, Joseph F. Mirabella, Jr., our offices are closed Friday, January 31, 2020.I Agree