If you are thinking about divorcing your spouse, the financial aspect of it may weigh heavily on your mind. No matter your income level, your financial situation can take a hit when you divorce. Spouses who didn't work or worked less while married are in a harder position because they are financially dependent on the other spouse. Rather than allow the spouse to succumb to a lower standard of living or become a public charge, spousal support might be established.
That said, spousal support is not as common today because both spouses tend to work and make their own income. It is, however, an important component of any divorce where the financial disparity requires it. If you have questions about spousal support, whether you are the one who wants alimony or the one who must provide it, contact The Law Firm of Erin N Birt PC (Birt Law). Our divorce lawyer in DuPage County will provide honest answers and advocate for your rights.
Alimony in DuPage County
Spousal support, spousal maintenance, and alimony are all terms used to describe a situation where one spouse pays another spouse a court-ordered payment for a certain amount of time during or after a divorce. In DuPage County, these payments are referred to as maintenance.
Spouses can agree on maintenance, but the end result must be fair. If you fail to agree, the spouse seeking support must file a formal notice with the court to request alimony.
Alimony can be temporary or permanent, the former of which is the norm. It can also be a lump-sum versus periodic monthly payments, the latter of which is the norm. Further, maintenance is not always in the form of money but can include a property transfer. Both lump-sum payments and property transfers are non-modifiable once the order is issued. That means if circumstances change, the alimony will not change. However, when it is in the form of periodic payments, maintenance is modifiable.
Factors Determining the Amount of Maintenance
If maintenance is appropriate, the Illinois statutory calculations for maintenance depend on the respective incomes, the duration of the marriage, and the date of filing of a Petition with the court. Most cases follow the statutory guideline calculations.
If you and your spouse earn significant money and your combined incomes are in excess of $500,000, you will not use the statutory guideline calculations and you will determine maintenance after the conidiation of certain factors. The circumstances of the spouses going through a divorce will determine both the amount and the duration of alimony payments. Some of the most important factors that might influence alimony include but are not limited to:
- The length of the marriage
- Age of the spouses
- Mental or physical condition of each spouse
- The income disparity between the spouses
- The likelihood that the financially-dependent spouse can secure a well-paying job
- Professional skills or educational accomplishments of the dependent spouse
- The couple's standard of living during the marriage
- Individual assets of each spouse
- How long it would take for the dependent spouse to become self-sufficient
- Any children and if child support will be needed
As mentioned above, you and your spouse can determine the amount by an agreement without interference of the court, keeping in mind it must be fair.
Termination of Maintenance in DuPage County
An end date can also be determined by agreement between the spouses, but if not, the court will determine it. Other times or in lieu of an end date, spousal support may terminate if one of the following occurs:
- The supported spouse remarries or cohabitates; or
- Either spouse dies.
A significant event may occur, too, which prompts an end to maintenance. In that case, it's determined on a case-by-case basis. Regardless of the reason to terminate maintenance, evidence may need to be provided to support the reason for termination.
Defenses to Avoid Maintenance
Alimony can be a highly contested aspect of any divorce. The spouse who may be ordered to pay alimony may want to challenge it. Reasons to deny a spousal support claim include but are not limited to:
- Cohabiting with a significant other
- Inability to Pay
In the end, if maintenance is contested, the final say on the matter will be the judge. It's important to try at all costs to come to an agreement because the expense of hearings or a trial can take its toll on a divorcing couple.
Maintenance Enforcement in Illinois
Once a maintenance order is signed by a judge, it is enforceable. Some times, payment is set up through the employer and automatically sent to the supported spouse. Most times, the paying spouse pays the supported spouse directly. The arrangement of spousal support payments will be included in the order.
If the paying spouse fails to pay, they can be held in contempt of court and could face fines and penalties. The supported spouse can file a show-cause action with the court and a hearing will be set.
Contact a maintenance Lawyer in DuPage County Today
If you are seeking a divorce, you should always get the advice and guidance of a divorce lawyer. At The Law Firm of Erin N Birt PC (Birt Law), our family law lawyer will provide the support and representation you need, including your efforts to obtain, argue against, or modify alimony. Contact us online or directly at (630) 891-2478 to schedule a consultation & planning session.