In the state of Illinois, family law encompasses a wide range of legal matters related to marriage, divorce, child custody, and other related concerns. Financial issues will be some of the most important aspects of many divorce cases, and in some situations, one spouse may believe that they should receive alimony payments from their former partner. Alimony is known as spousal maintenance under Illinois family law, and it will typically consist of monthly payments made for a certain period of time after the end of a couple’s marriage. When determining how to address maintenance during your divorce, an experienced attorney can provide guidance on how Illinois law will apply in your situation.
Understanding Maintenance in Illinois
Maintenance is not automatically granted in every divorce case in Illinois. The purpose is to ensure that both spouses will have sufficient financial resources to meet their ongoing needs and maintain a standard of living that is close to what they enjoyed while they were married. A person who requests spousal maintenance from their former partner will typically need to demonstrate that ongoing support is needed to ensure that they can cover ongoing expenses and avoid financial difficulties.
A family court judge may consider various factors before awarding maintenance, including:
- The income and property of each spouse
- The needs of each party based on their standard of living during the marriage
- The duration of the marriage
- The age and health condition of both parties
- The earning capacity and employability of each spouse
- Custodial responsibilities for children that may impact employment opportunities for either party
- The amount of time the spouse requesting alimony may need to become self-supporting by pursuing education or training
- Contributions made by the spouse seeking maintenance that helped the other spouse increase their income or advance their career
- Any valid agreements between the spouses regarding financial support, including premarital or postnuptial agreements
One issue that does not affect spousal maintenance is “marital misconduct.” That is, a spouse cannot be required to pay maintenance as punishment for having an affair or taking other actions that led to the end of the couple’s marriage. Instead, maintenance determinations will be based on financial need and the resources available to each party.
Different Types of Maintenance in Illinois
In Illinois, there are several types of spousal maintenance that may be appropriate depending on the unique circumstances of a divorce case:
- Temporary spousal maintenance: This type of support will provide temporary financial assistance during ongoing divorce proceedings until a couple reaches a divorce settlement or a judgment is issued following a trial.
- Fixed-term alimony: Ongoing support may be awarded to help ensure that a spouse can meet their ongoing needs and eventually become self-supporting. Maintenance will usually be paid for a set period of time, allowing the recipient to acquire the education or training necessary for employment.
- Reviewable maintenance: In some cases, alimony may be paid for a certain period of time, and the couple’s case may then be reviewed to determine whether support payments should continue. Based on the circumstances of each party at the time of review, maintenance may remain in place, be modified, or be terminated.
- Permanent alimony: In some cases, alimony may be paid for an indefinite period of time if one spouse cannot achieve financial independence due to their age, disabilities, health issues, or other factors. Permanent maintenance may also be awarded if a couple has been married for at least 20 years.
Determining the Amount and Duration of Maintenance
If a judge determines that maintenance should be paid, a specific formula defined in Illinois law will typically be used to calculate the amount of the ongoing payments. This formula takes both parties’ incomes into account, ensuring that the recipient will receive the necessary support and that the payor will not be placed in a position of financial difficulty. The duration of maintenance is calculated based on a percentage of the amount of time a couple was married. Longer marriages will typically result in alimony being paid for longer periods of time.
Contact Our Wheaton Maintenance Attorneys
If you believe that you should receive maintenance following your divorce, or if you are being asked to make ongoing payments to your former spouse, you will need to understand how Illinois law applies in your case. At Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC., our experienced DuPage County spousal maintenance lawyers can provide guidance on the factors that may affect maintenance payments in your divorce, and we will work to ensure that you can achieve a fair outcome to your case that will protect your financial interests. Contact us at 630-665-7300 to schedule a consultation today.