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The Awarding of Spousal Maintenance in Illinois

 Posted on December 00, 0000 in Divorce

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.

Maintenance by Agreement

A large number of couples are cognizant of the interdependency created by their marriage. Therefore, it is not uncommon, especially in more amicable divorces, for spouses to reach a voluntary agreement on the issue of spousal maintenance. Some may even include support provisions in a prenuptial agreement, executed before the marriage ever began. When a spousal maintenance agreement is presented to court, the court must include its terms in the divorce judgment unless the agreement is found to be unconscionable, or excessively unfair to one party.

Discretion of the Court

If the parties have not or cannot reach an agreement on their own, the court must decide whether a maintenance award is necessary or appropriate. In doing so, the court is required by law to consider all relevant factors, including but not limited to:

  • The property and resources of each party, including income and the results of the division of property in the divorce;
  • Each party’s needs and earning capacity, presently and in the future;
  • Any impairment to the earning capacity of a party due to marital or child-raising duties;
  • The time needed for the party seeking maintenance to become self-sufficient, or if parental responsibilities make such a goal unrealistic;
  • The length of the marriage and the lifestyle established by it;
  • The age, health, and occupation of each party; and
  • The contributions of the party seeking maintenance to the career and earning capacity of the other party.

To be sure that the guidelines are followed, the law requires the court to state the reasoning for its decision, whether or not maintenance is awarded. If maintenance is found to be appropriate, the law also included provisions for calculating how much is to be paid and for how long.

If you believe that you should be entitled to a spousal maintenance award following your divorce, contact an experienced Arlington Heights family law attorney. Get the skilled representation you deserve by calling A. Traub & Associates today for an appointment at one of our two convenient office locations.


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