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When will a court order spousal maintenance in a divorce?

| Jan 20, 2021 | Firm News |

When you are getting divorced in Illinois, there are certain things that you will have to address. For example, you can’t end a marriage without agreeing on matters such as child custody, child support, and the division of property. But what about spousal maintenance?

Absent a prenuptial agreement, there is nothing under the law that requires divorcing couples to discuss spousal maintenance (also known as spousal support or alimony). If you or your ex is requesting spousal maintenance, it’s important to understand the factors a court will use when determining maintenance amounts. You should also keep in mind the types of spousal maintenance available and their purposes.

When might a person request maintenance?

There’s a stereotypical view that a person who is seeking spousal maintenance is little more than a gold digger. The fact is, most forms of maintenance are designed to help a person get back on their feet rather than to enrich them for the rest of their lives. You should consider some general questions to determine whether you should seek spousal maintenance as part of your divorce proceeding.

Factors a court may use to determine maintenance amounts

Unlike some states, Illinois provides some statutory guidelines for determining maintenance amounts. This can help both parties better understand what they may expect to pay or receive. However, courts have the discretion to deviate from these guidelines. Additional factors that the court may consider include:

  • Each party’s individual income
  • The net income of each party together
  • Child support obligations
  • Maintenance orders from prior marriages, if any

In general, no one factor is likely to sway a court in either direction.

Types of spousal maintenance

Spousal maintenance needs can vary depending on a person’s situation. The types of spousal maintenance that are generally available include:

  • Temporary maintenance: This type of support is pretty self-explanatory. This is usually awarded to a party to help cover living expenses during divorce proceedings. Payments will usually come to an end when the divorce has been finalized.
  • Fixed-term: These types of payments have a set duration. They are designed to help one party become self-sufficient after the split. Often, these payments are set aside for vocational training or furthering one’s education.
  • Reviewable: This maintenance is a lot like a fixed-term award. The main difference is there’s no set duration. You can request a review of a maintenance award.
  • Indefinite maintenance: This resembles the permanent alimony of old. Awards for indefinite maintenance are rare. People who were married for 20 years or longer are the only ones who can request indefinite maintenance.

When your divorce has been finalized, you can’t come back and ask for spousal maintenance. You must make it part of your proceeding. Whether you’re seeking support or are being asked to make payments, you should always work closely with a skilled legal professional. Doing so will help you protect your interests.