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Limiting Spousal Maintenance Could Be Ultimately Beneficial for Women

Posted on in Spousal Support

spousal maintenance, Orland Park family law attorneysOver the last several years, Illinois has been one of several states to review and update laws regarding spousal maintenance, or alimony as it is often known. In this state specifically, maintenance is to be awarded only when needed and justified by the circumstances of an individual divorce and is never presumed to be automatic. While the application of the law is up to each judge to apply his or her own standard of need to a case, the intended effect is to reserve such awards for only the most appropriate situations. Placing limits on spousal maintenance may create some difficulties for those who are recently divorced, but some experts are suggesting that these same limits may lead to overall positive changes in the way that women approach finances in both marriage and divorce.

Shift in Thinking

The law regarding spousal maintenance is technically gender-neutral, and there are cases in which men receive support from their ex-wives following a divorce. The reality is—as most people assume—that the vast majority of maintenance recipients are women, as alimony laws were generally intended to support women with financial disadvantages. Today, however, society, as a whole, is geared toward encouraging women to be professionally, personally, and financially independent. Reliance on spousal maintenance as an institution stands in direct opposition to these ideals.

Responsibility vs. Reliance

As Forbes contributor Emma Johnson recently opined, "An end of alimony would force each able-bodied person to be financially responsible for themselves." She also said that today’s women have more opportunities than ever before, and by choosing to be economically dependent on a spouse incurs the risk of reduced earning potential and other financial disadvantages. By removing maintenance from a young woman’s career-planning options, she would be forced to account for that from the very beginning. Her choices and decisions would likely be influenced the lack of a "safety net." Even in marriage, Johnson believes that there are too many unknowns to risk staying reliant on a single income. Unforeseen job loss, illness or disability, and just life, in general, can result in a tremendous financial burden, which women should be willing and able to share with their spouses.

There are exceptions, she says, including those with disabilities and mothers of disabled children, but spousal maintenance can also keep divorced women from moving on with their lives as they continue to be reliant on their ex-spouses. If you are not financially independent, your divorce can affect your life for many years after the official proceedings are finalized.

Help for Planning Ahead

If you are considering a divorce and are unsure whether spousal maintenance would be beneficial, contact an experienced Lombard family law attorney at A. Traub & Associates. We can help you better understand your situation and your options for a financially secure future. Call 630-426-0196 to schedule a consultation today.


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