Illinois law provides that spousal support or maintenance (previously referred to as “alimony”) may be granted to either spouse in connection with a pending Illinois divorce case. The law surrounding maintenance awards is complex and requires the legal skill and knowledge of an experienced family law practitioner. Illinois courts may provide a party with either a temporary maintenance order while the case is pending or a permanent maintenance order at the conclusion of the case. Unlike child support, which is dictated by established guidelines, maintenance is determined by a consideration of other statutory factors 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 of the present and future 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 to marriage; the time necessary to enable the party seeking maintenance to acquire appropriate education, training, and 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; contributions and services by the party seeking maintenance to the education, training, career or career potential, of license of the spouse; any valid agreement of the parties, and any other factor that the Court expressly finds to be just and equitable.
An award of maintenance is not automatic and a party entering a divorce case should not take for granted that they will receive maintenance from their spouse. An award of maintenance is intended to equalize the party’s standard of living following a divorce. Maintenance is most commonly awarded in long term marriages, with great income disparity and particularly in instances where the spouse seeking maintenance has limited employment opportunities. If you are considering divorce and/or are in the middle of a divorce case and need maintenance from your spouse to maintain the standard of living during the marriage, please contact us for a consultation.
Modification to Existing Maintenance / Alimony
If your divorce is final, but your circumstances have changed, you will need an experienced lawyer to help you modify an existing maintenance order. Once ordered, the amount of maintenance payable and the duration of payment may only be modified upon the showing of a “substantial change in circumstances.” If you are required to pay maintenance to your spouse, you obligation to continue paying maintenance to you former spouse may be subject to termination or modification. For example if your former spouse cohabitates with a new romantic partner, this may constitute grounds for termination. Given the variations surrounding maintenance and the factors affecting your rights in this regard, it is critical that you receive sound legal advice. Whether you are the party paying maintenance or receiving the attorneys at HRK can help.