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DuPage County maintenance attorneysWhen a married couple divorces in Illinois, the court may require the higher-earning spouse to pay spousal support to the other spouse. Spousal support is also called spousal maintenance or alimony. The support is typically intended to be temporary and rehabilitative in nature, but there are exceptions. The higher-earning spouse provides payments to the recipient spouse until he or she can get back on his or her feet financially. The issue of the payment of spousal support may also be agreed upon ahead of time through a prenuptial agreement. Whether you are the payor or recipient of spousal support, you may want to know how long these payments will last. The answer depends on a variety of factors.

Temporary Spousal Support vs. Permanent Spousal Support

If you and your spouse agreed to a spousal support arrangement in a Marital Settlement Agreement, the payments will end according to that agreement. When the court assigns spousal support, it is typically intended to last long enough for the recipient to gain the education, training, skills, and employment needed to become financially independent. Illinois law provides a formula for calculating the duration of a spousal support order that depends upon the length of the marriage. Longer marriages generally lead to proportionately longer orders for spousal support.

In some cases, the court will award permanent spousal support to a spouse. This typically happens when the spouses were married for longer than 20 years and the lesser earning spouse sacrificed education and employment to be a homemaker or care for children.

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DuPage County divorce attorneysIf you are recently divorced or are in the process of ending a marriage that has been effectively dead for years, it is completely normal to experience feelings of loneliness and a need for companionship. A new relationship is exciting and, for someone coming out of a bad marriage, finding a new partner can be extremely cathartic. If, however, your spouse is paying you alimony—formally known as “maintenance” in Illinois law—or you are asking for maintenance in your divorce, you need to understand how a new partner could potentially affect your payments.

The Need for Spousal Support

According to the law in Illinois, maintenance is never presumed to be necessary in a divorce. Instead, it may be awarded by the court if the court determines that such payments are necessary and appropriate for the given situation. The general idea is to help a financially-disadvantaged spouse regain his or independence, if possible. In cases where independence is not possible due to age, health, or other factors, maintenance may be awarded to help a spouse maintain a reasonable standard of living.

When the Recipient Remarries

While most orders for maintenance are intended to last for a fixed amount of time, based on the duration of the marriage, an order will also be terminated if the recipient party gets remarried. This is understandable, considering that a remarriage creates a new household situation for that spouse—one to which the original paying spouse should not be required to support financially.

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DuPage County family law attorneySince 2016, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) has included a specific formula for divorce courts to use when calculating how much one spouse must pay to the other in the form of maintenance, also known as spousal support or alimony. The formula is based on each spouse’s annual income and is intended to provide additional support for spouses who earn substantially less than their partners earn. When the formula was created in 2016, it was meant to be applied in situations where the spouses earned less than $250,000 per year combined. Thanks to an update to the law that was passed last year, the formula must now be used in many more situations.

Determining the Need for Maintenance

Maintenance is not automatic in an Illinois divorce. The judge presiding over a particular case must determine if a bona fide need for spousal support exists. In making that determination, the court will consider a number of factors, including each spouse’s age, health, income, and employability, as well as the arrangements that have been made for the couple’s children, if any. The court must also take into account the length of the marriage, the standard of living established, and sacrifices or contributions made by either spouse to the other’s career.

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Illinois family law attorney, amount of maintenanceWhen involved in a divorce, it is possible that the court will order one spouse to pay the other spouse maintenance. These payments are intended to help support the spouse with a lower income. Whether maintenance payments are ordered depends upon numerous factors. Maintenance is not awarded in all divorces. However, when it is awarded, Illinois now provides judges with guidelines to help with calculating payments, although it is not mandatory that the guidelines be followed in all cases.

What is Maintenance?

The most significant form of maintenance is permanent, which is typically awarded when it is unlikely that a spouse will be able to secure adequate employment. Temporary maintenance can be granted for the period during which a divorce is pending or until the final judgment is entered. Finally, rehabilitative maintenance is granted to a spouse in order to allow him or her to complete an education or otherwise gain experience and skills which will enable the individual to secure gainful employment. Regardless of the type of maintenance, if the spouse ordered to pay maintenance does not make timely payments, the unpaid obligation accrues simple interest.

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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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From our law office in Wheaton, IL the family law and civil litigation law attorneys of Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick and Mirabella, represent businesses and individual clients throughout the western suburbs of Chicago, Illinois including Wheaton, Naperville, Oak Brook, Glen Ellyn, Carol Stream, Lombard, Downers Grove, Burr Ridge, Lisle, Elmhurst, Oakbrook Terrace, Winfield, Woodridge, Warrenville and throughout DuPage, Kane and Kendall Counties.

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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