Illinois Lawyer Referrals and Legal Guidance
Illinois Maintenance Law Overview
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Spousal maintenance (also known as spousal support or alimony), is the money one spouse must pay the other after a divorce is finalized. A spouse may get maintenance if he or she has been relying on the other spouse’s income and is unable to live on his or her own. There are two types of maintenance in Illinois – rehabilitative and permanent.
Rehabilitative maintenance is paid for a set amount of time. It is for a spouse who has the ability to be financially independent, but needs time in order to do so. For example, a wife who was a homemaker during the marriage may receive financial support from her former husband while she finds a job or gets required training. Sometimes rehabilitative maintenance expires on a specific date; other times the judge reviews the employment situation after a time and decides whether maintenance should continue.
Permanent maintenance is, as the name suggests, permanent. In Illinois, a spouse may get permanent maintenance if they have been married for a long time, have been relying on the other spouse’s income during the marriage, and are unable to support themselves. For example, permanent maintenance would be appropriate for an elderly spouse who does not have the skills or ability to earn a sufficient living.
Because a divorce can take up to a year or more to finalize, a spouse can ask for temporary maintenance while the divorce is in progress. Temporary maintenance ends automatically when the divorce becomes final.
The amount a spouse has to pay is decided in one of two ways. The parties can negotiate and agree on an amount, or a judge will decide. In Illinois, there is no set formula. A judge will look at the entire situation and consider factors such as each spouse’s age, health, education, financial situation, earning capacity, and employment prospects. Please note that in most cases maintenance is negotiated and whether you are looking to receive maintenance or hoping to avoid paying it the right Illinois divorce attorney can make all of the difference for you. Knowing how a judge might rule gives you leverage in a negotiation. There is no way an attorney can guarantee a result, but a lawyer who appears before your judge on a regular basis and fights for their clients can often tip the scales in your favor. In Illinois, a judge also may take into account how the couple’s property will be divided after the divorce. A spouse may be given a larger share of the property instead of maintenance or in exchange for less maintenance.
In some situations, maintenance can be modified. In Illinois, a party can ask the court to modify maintenance if there is a significant change in his or her circumstances. For example, if a spouse is injured and unable to work, a judge may reconsider the amount and duration of the payments. A situation like this is handled on a case by case basis. Does this sound confusing? It can be. If you have any questions or would like an attorney referral, please do not hesitate to contact us.
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