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New Guidelines Permit Fixed Term Spousal Maintenance

Posted on in Divorce

spousal support, spousal maintenance, Illinois family law attorneyIn Illinois, judges formerly maintained full discretion regarding spousal maintenance payments in individual divorce cases. Now, due to 2014 legislation that was signed into law by former Governor Pat Quinn, guidelines have been established to streamline the process and make more congruent rulings for all divorcing couples in Illinois. Instead of judges having sole discretion to determine payments, the court must use a standardized formula to decide payment amounts and the length of the order. Before any payments can be established, a judge must determine whether or not a divorcing spouse is eligible for spousal maintenance. Factors that are taken into consideration include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Income and earning potential of each party;
  • Living standards established during marriage;
  • Length of the marriage; and
  • Property ownership and allocation.

Once maintenance payments have been approved, the court will use the new formula to set the amount, while the duration of payments is based on the overall length of the marriage multiplied by a predetermined percentage factor. New Fixed Period Maintenance Options for Couples Married Less Than a Decade Illinois couples who have been married for less than a decade when filing for divorce may be most affected by this new statute. These couples are subject to certain rulings that may limit the number of payments received. If the marriage lasted less than 10 years old, a court may decide that the termination date is a permanent termination, meaning no further payments. The law implies that couples married for more than 10 years can apply for payment extensions. This differs from previous laws which required consent from both parties before payments could be permanently terminated. Consent No Longer Needed for Court Ordered Termination of Payments The old law also allowed for multiple reviews of maintenance payments, opening the door for revisions and renewals. Now, the courts can make decisions on payments and renewals without receiving consents from both spouses. The change was intended to protect the paying spouse from additional payments and potential financial hardship, especially if the receiving spouse decided he or she still needed support after the ordered payment term. New Guidelines Look to Improve Efficiency and Lower Costs Another goal of the new law is to benefit divorcing couples by shortening the divorce process. Instead of waiting for the courts to deliberate over the amount and length of payments for each individual divorce case, the new law streamlines the proceedings. This should save divorcing couples time in court and money paid out to courts and attorneys. In many cases, the payments can be calculated in advance, resulting in much less litigation. Illinois divorce statutes also allow for temporary payments to start before the divorce is finalized, which can then be reviewed after finalization if circumstances change. For more information about how the new guidelines may be relevant to your situation, please call a Naperville family law attorney today at 630-352-2240. At the Pesce Law Group, P.C. we are proud to provide personalized service to all of our clients.

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