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Posted on in Spousal Support

Lombard family law attorneyWhen a married couple divorces, the court may award spousal support to one of the spouses. Spousal support is sometimes referred to as alimony or spousal maintenance. It refers to payments that one spouse makes to the other in order to help them financially post-divorce. Spousal support can be based on a court decision, a prenuptial agreement or a postnuptial agreement. Maintenance is not always awarded in Illinois. In some cases, both spouses are self-supporting so there is no need for financial assistance. Even if there is a substantial difference in income between the two spouses, courts may account for this difference by awarding more of the marital property to the lower-earning spouse.

Who Gets Spousal Support?

Illinois courts have wide discretion in determining if spousal support will be awarded or not, how much payments will be, and for how long payments will occur. The court must consider the following factors in making decisions about spousal support:

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Lombard family law attorneysIf you are planning on filing for divorce and either you or your spouse are at a distinct financial disadvantage, the lower- or non-earning spouse may be entitled to spousal support. What exactly does this mean for your case? The following can help you understand the basics of spousal support (alimony).

When Is Spousal Support Awarded?

Spousal support is known in Illinois law as maintenance and can be awarded to any financially disadvantaged spouse. It may be needed because the wife worked as the sole or primary income earner and the husband stayed home with the children, which puts him at a disadvantage after the divorce. Alternatively, it may be awarded to a wife who has sacrificed her own education or career to advance the high-powered career of her husband. It may even be needed if one spouse became unable to work because of health issues. Whatever the situation may be, the purpose of spousal support is always the same: it is meant to temporarily or permanently offset the financial disadvantage of the lesser- or non-earning spouse may experience after divorce.

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spousal support, Lombard family law attorneyWhen a couple with children gets divorced, there is a presumption that one parent—usually the one with few parental responsibilities—will be expected to pay child support. There is no such presumption in Illinois regarding spousal support, sometimes known as spousal maintenance or alimony. Instead, spousal support is awarded on a case-by-case basis, upon establishment by the court of a spouse’s need. Once the need has been determined and spousal maintenance has been deemed appropriate, the court is then tasked with determining how much the supporting spouse is required to pay and for how long.

Statutory Standards

Prior to 2015, the court was granted full discretion to set the amount and duration of spousal support orders. As one might expect, this led to vast disparities between orders issued by different judges, who were guided by their principles of what seemed fair and constituted meeting a spouse’s needs. Beginning in 2015, however, a new law was enacted that provided a standard calculation formula to be used in the majority of divorce cases in Illinois. The statutory formula will apply in your case if you and your spouse together do not make more than $250,000 per year, and you, as the payor, are not currently supporting children or a spouse from a previous relationship.

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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.

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maintenance, illinois law, Kane County divorce attorneyCertain aspects of divorce under Illinois law are relatively black-and-white. For example, virtually every divorcing spouse is entitled to an equitable share of the couple’s marital property, just like every child is assumed to have the right to financial support from both parents. Other aspects, however, can be more accurately described as falling into much more of a gray area, with ample room for court discretion and subjective considerations. Among the most prominent of these is spousal maintenance, which has long been a source of uncertainty and confusion for many divorcing couples.

Understanding the Purpose of Maintenance

It is important to realize that there no presumed right to spousal maintenance, sometimes called alimony, in the state of Illinois. Instead, it can be ordered by the court based on the examination of the circumstances of a marriage and divorce. Maintenance is intended to limit the extent to which a spouse will be financially disadvantaged by the end of her marriage. While a court may award a man spousal maintenance under the law, more than 95 percent of individuals receiving alimony are women. Decisions about support, though, are not always left to the courts.

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ending payments, spousal maintenance, Illinois family law attorneysIf you are divorced or are in the process of getting divorced, it is understandable that you might feel lonely and desire the companionship of a romantic partner. New relationships are exciting and often rejuvenating, especially for an individual coming out of an unhappy marriage. However, if you are receiving spousal maintenance or have asked for maintenance in your divorce, it is important to understand the potential impact of a new relationship, especially if you are considering moving in together.

Spousal Support

The law in Illinois recognizes that, after a divorce, it is sometimes necessary to assist a lower-earning spouse in regaining his or her independence. Based upon a consideration of a number of factors related to the marriage, a court may order one party to provide spousal maintenance to the other for a period of time—or permanently, if the marriage was long enough. The specific calculations are expected to follow a standard set forth in the law, but the original determination of necessity is left to the court.

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fixed-term maintenance, spousal support, Illinois divorce attorneyWhen a marriage comes to an end through divorce, one spouse may be at a significant financial disadvantage. In many cases, this spouse may have taken on other roles within the marital relationship, such as primary caregiver for the couple’s children, while financially contributing less. After divorce, a disadvantaged spouse will often need to find new ways to support him- or herself, and spousal maintenance laws are designed to help him or her do so when applicable. Recent changes to the law, however, may allow a court to place limits on spousal support by utilizing fixed-term maintenance in certain situations.

The provisions for fixed-term maintenance went into effect on January 1, 2015, along with a number of other amendments to the Illinois spousal maintenance statute. While the new formula for standardized calculations has been previously discussed in detail, many Illinois residents may be unaware of the court’s option for marriages lasting less than ten years.

The new law does provide guidelines for determining a spousal support order, but it also includes language allowing the court to deviate from them. Additionally, there is nothing in the law that specifically prevents a spouse from repeatedly requesting an extension of support payments, based on the circumstances of the situation. Such a request may not always be granted, but under the provisions in the law, extensions may be possible.

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Lombard family law attorney, spousal maintenance, new laws, spousal support

Each year in Illinois, hundreds of measures are enacted into law at the state level, addressing issues from across the political spectrum. On January 1, 2015, more than 200 new laws or amendments went into effect across Illinois. Of these new statutes, Public Act 98-0961 is likely to impact those who may be considering divorce in the near future as it amended the existing law regarding spousal maintenance.

The amended law was passed in August of last year and was scheduled to take effect in 2015, just in time for the start of "divorce season." As the courts prepare for a renewed rush of divorce filings between January and March, couples and divorce attorneys should be aware of how the amendment may affect their individual situations. While the court retains discretion over determining the appropriateness of spousal maintenance, or alimony, the formula with which the amount and duration of the award is calculated has now been standardized.

Amount of Spousal Maintenance

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Posted on in Divorce

In any relationship, there can be ups and downs.  Being in close proximity, such as in a marriage, can exacerbate a volatile situation.  It is difficult to seek a resolution in the heat of the moment.  Certain scenarios may mean that separation is merely a precursor to finalizing a divorce or it can be a start to reconciliation.

There are different types of separation, each of which has specific ramifications.  The first type is just living separately.  Living apart can mean in different houses or even separate parts of the mutual home.  Debts and assets accrued by either party during this kind of separation are considered part of the marital estate.  During a divorce all property and debts are divided according to equitable distribution guidelines of Illinois divorce court.  This can also be seen as a trial separation to decide whether to reconcile or separate completely.

Another kind of separation is called a legal separation.  This is for couples who have irreconcilable differences but may not want to divorce for religious reasons.  A legal separation is filed for in a divorce court.  The court will decide on issues like child custody, child support, spousal maintenance, visitation and division of property.  The only aspect that a legal separation does not achieve is a divorce.  Both spouses are still married.

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Posted on in Divorce
Although many states refer to alimony as the payment from one spouse to a former spouse after the marriage has been dissolved, in Illinois this is known as maintenance. This is  different from child support, which is payment made from one parent to a another to help with the costs associated specifically with children. If you're thinking about how maintenance might play out in your situation, you need guidance from an attorney on the matter. There are essentially four types of maintenance in the state of Illinois.
  1. The first is permanent maintenance, which may be given if one spouse is deemed unable to cope financially after the divorce. 
  2. The second type is known as temporary maintenance, which can be awarded in the short term while the dissolution of the marriage is still happening. 
  3. Rehabilitative maintenance is given where the court expects that the other party will eventually be able to return to a normal lifestyle and obtain employment. This type of maintenance is awarded in the short term with the expectation that the party will eventually be on their feet again. 
  4. Finally, reviewable maintenance is a sort of "follow up" award, where the court has the right to review the case and determine if the party receiving maintenance is still in a position requiring support.
The court reviews numerous factors when determining what kind of maintenance works in each individual case. These factors include the total length of the marriage, the age of the divorcing parties, the health of each person, whether there are children involved and if so, which parent is likely to be physically responsible for the children, and each party's ability to receive income and have access to assets. All of these factors are taken into consideration. If you have further questions about the alimony/maintenance process in Illinois, contact an attorney to discuss your case.

Image courtesy of Idea Go/Freedigitalphotos

LucyRecently, it was reported by a California attorney that, has Kobe Bryant and his wife Vanessa were to continue their divorce proceedings – although they reconciled in January – the divorce could have ended up costing the Los Angeles Lakers player $1.36 million every month for child support and spousal support.

The figure was calculated based on a report from Forbes magazine that estimates Kobe’s annual income to be close to $53.2 million. The Lakers player makes about $20.3 million is salary/winnings along with an additional $32 million in endorsements. According to the publication, 34-year-old is also number 6 on the list of the world’s highest paid athletes.

Based upon those estimated figures, the California lawyer said that if Kobe and Vanessa did decide to go through with their divorce, assuming that Kobe would get equal custody of his two daughters, he would have to pay almost $365,000 in child support every month according to California law. In addition to child support, he would also pay close to $1 million in spousal support because there was no prenuptial agreement when the couple married in April 2001.

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The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor did a study and found that about 115,000 women lose their health insurance every year due to divorce. Unfortunately, this is not usually remedied quicklly; the overall rates of health insurance coverage for women after a divorce  remains low for two or more years.

The lead author of the study is Bridget Lavelle, a University Ph.D. candidate in public policy and sociology; she claims that the loss of health insurance is a huge deal because it most often is concurrent with the loss of a husband. The study analyzes data from across the nation from 1966 through 2007 on women between the ages of 26 to 64. Lavelle conducted the study with U-M sociologist Pamela Smock, and the research was supported by the U-M National Poverty Center.

The study also found:

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