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Spousal Support Laws in Illinois Permit Fixed-Term Maintenance

 Posted on May 14, 2015 in Spousal Support

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.

Fixed-term maintenance, however, was created as an option for the court in an effort to recognize that some shorter marriages have less long-term effects on a spouse’s ability to be self-sustaining. As such, the court may decide in advance that when the initial order for spousal support ends, the termination is permanent. The amount and length of the order must be established in compliance with the law, but action will not be permitted seeking the extension of support payments.

For example, if a couple was married for five years, and the situation dictated to the court that spousal support was appropriate, the court would likely award support for a period of one year, as calculated under the law. Due to the short duration of the marriage, the court may enter the one-year period as a fixed-term, mandating that the support order be permanently terminated after that year. The spouse receiving maintenance would know in advance that payments will stop, allowing him or her to properly prepare for that eventuality.

If you are considering divorce and fixed-term maintenance may be a possibility in your case, you may have questions about the process. Contact an experienced Arlington Heights divorce attorney today at A. Traub & Associates. Our skilled legal team can help you understand all of the factors that may impact the court’s decision and will work with you in achieving the best possible outcome.

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