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DuPage County divorce attorney spousal maintenance

Although it occurred slightly over one year ago, it is worth understanding the changes that Illinois made to its spousal maintenance law on January 1, 2019. The law controls not just how a court can determine whether or not one spouse is owed maintenance payments from the other, but how to choose the duration and amounts of those payments. Even if you have the help of an experienced divorce attorney to guide you through the divorce process, it could benefit you to understand whether to expect a court to rule in favor of maintenance payments for you or your spouse. 

2019 Illinois Spousal Maintenance Law

Before deciding whether spousal maintenance applies in a divorce, the court must consider many factors, all of which are detailed in the 2019 Illinois spousal maintenance law:

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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 family law attorneysAn order for spousal maintenance, or spousal support, in a divorce is issued on a need-based review of each individual case. There is no presumption that one spouse or the other will be required to pay spousal support. Spousal support, though less common than in previous generations, is still awarded in many divorce cases to help alleviate the financial burden of the divorce on an economically disadvantaged spouse. Once the final divorce judgment is entered, the spousal support order becomes enforceable by law and the supporting spouse must comply or face court sanctions. But what about during the divorce? Can spousal maintenance be ordered while the proceedings are still ongoing?

Temporary Orders

The simple answer is yes. Spousal support can be ordered by the court before the final divorce judgment is entered, but the order takes a somewhat different form. The process for obtaining a temporary maintenance order is different as well.

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (720 ILCS 5) provides that either party in a divorce may request temporary spousal maintenance via a motion and a financial affidavit. The affidavit is a sworn (or affirmed) statement that lays out a party’s current financial situation, including all income, debts, and expenses. When filing, the spouse must also include supporting documentation such as tax returns, pay stubs, bank statements, and others as appropriate. The court will also take into account the current arrangements regarding parenting time and parental responsibilities.

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