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Wheaton spousal support attorneyAlimony refers to financial support that a spouse pays to a financially-dependent spouse after the couple’s divorce. These payments, which are referred to as “spousal maintenance” in Illinois law, are typically awarded when there is a major disparity in income between the spouses. Many spouses require financial support in the form of alimony because they gave up career advancements in favor of homemaking or child-rearing responsibilities. The purpose of spousal maintenance is to place both spouses in financial circumstances similar to what they enjoyed while they were married after they get divorced.

Alimony May Be Temporary, Permanent, or Rehabilitative

Divorce cases can take multiple months or even several years to complete. Some spouses request temporary alimony while the divorce is ongoing. Temporary alimony typically terminates when the divorce is finalized and the spouses become subject to the terms of the final divorce decree.

Maintenance awarded in the divorce decree may be ordered for a specific time period, or it may be indefinite.  Spousal maintenance is often intended to be rehabilitative in nature. These types of alimony payments give the recipient spouse time to secure the education, training, and/or employment he or she needs to be self-supporting. In a minority of cases, alimony is permanent and only terminates once the recipient remarries or cohabitates with a romantic partner, or either spouse passes away.

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Naperville alimony attorneysIn some divorce cases, one of the spouses is entitled to spousal maintenance, or alimony. Maintenance is typically ordered when one spouse is left at a significant financial disadvantage by divorce or when a valid prenuptial agreement stipulates spousal maintenance arrangements. Whether you are a payor or recipient of spousal maintenance, you may have many questions about how long payments will last. Spousal maintenance is often temporary, but there are some cases in which long term or permanent maintenance is ordered. Read on to learn more.

Spousal Support Laws in Illinois  

When determining whether spousal maintenance is appropriate, Illinois courts consider several factors including but not limited to:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The standard of living established during the marriage
  • Each spouse’s income and assets
  • Each spouse’s present and future earning capacity
  • Any impairment to a spouse’s earning capacity
  • Contributions a spouse made to the advancement of the other spouse’s career or education
  • The time needed for the recipient spouse to obtain job training or education necessary to become gainfully employed
  • Each spouse’s age, physical health, and mental well-being

If a prenuptial agreement or similar marital agreement does not address spousal maintenance, the duration of spousal maintenance payments is typically based on statutory guidelines. If the combined income of the spouses is less than $500,000, the duration of spousal maintenance is determined by the number of years the couple was married. The longer the marriage, the longer the maintenance payments last. In divorce cases involving marriages of 20 years or more, the court may order permanent spousal maintenance or maintenance for a term equal to the length of the marriage.

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Naperville If you are receiving spousal maintenance, you probably know—or, at least, assume—that your former spouse’s financial obligations to you will end in that event you ever get remarried. It only makes sense. When you get remarried, you become financially interdependent with your new spouse, all but making your ex all but irrelevant—children’s needs notwithstanding. Depending on your situation and your desires, however, you may be inclined to shy away from marriage for a time after your divorce, as your last formal commitment may have soured you a bit on the institution. As an alternative to getting married, you may decide to move in with your new partner, but you should know that, in most cases, cohabitation is grounds for ending spousal maintenance as well.

Growing Trend

Evolving social mores and more liberal views on interpersonal relationships have led to an increasing number of unmarried couples living together. Many choose the arrangement as a precursor to marriage, while others are content to remain cohabiting indefinitely. While sociologists and religious authorities continue to debate the morality of cohabitation, legal systems around the country have been forced to contend with the changing concepts of household and family.

The Law Regarding Cohabitation

According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, your rights to spousal maintenance end when you cohabit “with another person on a resident, continuing conjugal basis.” If you are found to be living with your new partner in a relationship that meets the provisions of the law and have continued to receive maintenance, you will probably be required to reimburse your ex-spouse. Case law over the years have made it clear that a normal roommate arrangement would not jeopardize your eligibility for continued maintenance. On the other hand, what most people consider “living with their girlfriend or boyfriend” would almost certainly be seen by the court as justification for ending support.

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