Spousal Support Considerations in a Divorce
In your divorce case, you and your spouse will need to make difficult decisions on a large number of considerations. If the two of you are able to cooperate and negotiate amicably, you may be able to reach a reasonable agreement; however, if you cannot, it will be up to the court. In cases where spousal support, known as maintenance under Illinois law, is requested, the court is required by law to take a number of factors into account before making a determination. If you believe that maintenance is justified in your case, you need to understand what those factors are.
Reasons for Maintenance
A maintenance award is meant to offset some of the negative impact that a divorce can have on a financially disadvantaged spouse. In many marriages, one spouse is the primary earner while the other is essentially dependent on him or her, either by mutual agreement or due to the family’s circumstances. A divorce could place a spouse who relies on his or her partner financially in a very vulnerable position. It can be extremely difficult—impossible, in some cases—for that spouse to support him- or herself, especially if he or she is also primarily responsible for the care of the children. This is why maintenance exists, and the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides the court with a list considerations that must be made when deciding on the need for spousal support.
The judge has full discretion to decide if the need for maintenance actually exists. If you request spousal support, the court must take into account:
- Your income and assets, as well as those of your spouse. This includes marital property you receive in the divorce;
- Each spouse’s current and projected needs;
- Each spouse’s current and projected earning capacity;
- Any impairment to your career or earning ability caused by your role in the relationship;
- Any impairment to your spouse’s earning ability;
- Contributions you have made to your spouse’s earning ability, such as dropping out of school to care for the children while your spouse pursued an advanced degree;
- Whether you can become financially self-sufficient and how long it may take to do so;
- How long you were married and the standard of living you enjoyed;
- Your age, health, employability, and skills and those of your spouse; and
- Any other factor the court finds to be relevant.
- After considering these factors, the court will determine if a maintenance award is necessary, and the court’s findings must be substantiated in the record. If support is appropriate, the law provides a method for calculating the amount to be paid and the length of time for which payments must be made.
Seek Legal Help
Divorce can certainly be overwhelming at times, but an experienced DuPage County family law attorney can help you work through the process. To learn more about the laws regarding spousal maintenance in Illinois, contact the team at MKFM Law today. We will review your case and assist you in making the best decisions for yourself and for your family.