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DuPage County alimony lawyersSpousal maintenance, though not presumed to be necessary in Illinois, is often made mandatory by judges looking to ensure that each spouse is able to maintain him- or her-self after a divorce. Several years ago, the process for determining maintenance obligations in Illinois was a lightning rod for controversy, as rulings varied widely depending on the particular county or judge in question. In early 2015, significant changes were made leading to today’s more standardized law. Still, determining or modifying spousal maintenance remains a complex endeavor.

A New Standard

The formula for determining the amount of maintenance changed about two and a half years ago with the passage of an amendment to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). Previously, spousal support had been determined almost entirely by a judge’s discretion, though there was (and still is) a list of factors that judges had to consider while making the determination. The amended law introduced a standardized formula for most situations and urged judges to exercise a narrower breadth of discretion in the cases for which the formula did not apply.

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Wheaton divorce lawyersParents choose to stay home with their children for a number of reasons. For some, their family's lifestyle is easily supported by their spouse's income, which gives them the financial flexibility to spend time with their children. Others may stay home out of necessity.

Regardless of the reason – be it to care for a special needs child, a desire to parent full-time, or simply because they can – all are at risk for lifelong poverty, should their marriage end in divorce. If you are a stay-at-home parent and planning on filing for divorce, or have already been served with divorce papers, learn what you need to know about protecting your financial future, and how you can obtain skilled legal counsel, even if you have no assets of your own.

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Illinois family law attorneys, Illinois maintenance guidelines, family law attorney, alimony, maintenance, divorce finances, maintenance calculation, spousal maintenanceIn divorce cases, due to the discretion afforded a trial court, the calculation of maintenance can vary significantly from judge to judge and county to county. However, this should change as of January 1, 2015. The Illinois legislature has enacted a new law that impacts how courts will determine maintenance in divorce cases, and it will have a significant impact on future maintenance determinations in Illinois.

In many divorce cases, maintenance calculations have been difficult to ascertain. Judges have often had great discretion in awarding maintenance. However, a new Public Act impacts how courts will award maintenance to couples with a combined income of less than $250,000.

How Judges Previously Calculated Maintenance

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A recently publicized news story involving the interplay of immigration laws and divorce has the legal community anxiously awaiting a verdict. At issue in the case, out of southern Texas, is whether a former husband can be legally responsible for paying maintenance (alimony) to his former wife based not on divorce law but on a rarely-enforced immigration provision.

KerryThe parties in the case were married in 2003; the wife was a citizen of Mexico. In order for her to obtain a green card to stay in America, her then-fiancé signed a document in which he agreed to financially support his soon-to-be wife at 125% above the poverty level (currently, the poverty level for a single person is approximately $11,500.00 annually). The document, known as an I-864 Affidavit of Support, is theoretically a contract between the person who signs it, the spouse, and the United States Government. The purpose of the Affidavit is to ensure that the person receiving the green card will not become a public charge—someone who relies on government assistance for support.

The parties were married for six years, had a daughter, and then the wife filed for divorce. The husband was granted custody of the daughter. The wife remarried, which marriage also ended in divorce. Under Illinois law, if the wife had been awarded maintenance after the first divorce, her first husband's obligation to pay maintenance would terminate upon the wife's remarriage.

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If you are in the midst of a divorce and your spouse is asking for alimony, you may be curious as to how the amount that will be allocated is determined. Alimony, also known as spousal support, is a financial award that one spouse will pay to the other spouse while he or she becomes accustomed to supporting themselves.

At the present, there is no specific formula that exists to determine how much, if any, support will be awarded. However, several factors are considered, such as, the income

and property of each party; the needs of each party; the present and future earning capacity of each party; any impairment to the earning capacity of the party seeking maintenance due to that party devoting time to domestic duties or having forgone or delayed education, training, employment, or career opportunities due to the marriage; the time necessary to enable the party seeking maintenance to acquire appropriate education, training, and employment, and whether that party is able to support himself or herself through appropriate employment or is the custodian of a child making it appropriate that the custodian not seek employment; the standard of living established during the marriage; the duration of the marriage; the age and the physical and emotional condition of both parties; the tax consequences of the property division upon the respective economic circumstances of the parties; contributions and services by the party seeking maintenance to the education, training, career or career potential, or license of the other spouse; any valid agreement of the parties; and any other factor that the court finds to be just and equitable.

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