The Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C.

630-409-8184

1444 North Farnsworth Avenue, Suite 307, Aurora, IL 60505

Yorkville Office By Appointment

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maintenance, Aurora divorce lawyerIf you are considering divorce, you may already be aware that spousal maintenance, or alimony, is not a guaranteed right for either spouse. Based on the circumstances of your marriage—and especially if you earn significantly more than your spouse, and he or she has been financially dependent on you—you may expect to be ordered to pay spousal support. You may even be quite willing to make maintenance payments as, even though you no longer wish to remain married, you do not need to see your soon-to-be ex-spouse suffer, particularly if the two of you have children together. While you may be expecting to pay alimony, it is often helpful to get an idea of just how much those payments will be and for how long.

Payment Amounts

Assuming the court agrees that spousal maintenance is needed based on the consideration of a number of factors, the law provides a method for calculating spousal support payments. The most common way is through a statutory formula intended to be used in the vast majority of cases in which the couple’s combined income is less than $250,000, and the paying spouse is not supporting children from a previous relationship or another former spouse. In such a case, the amount to be paid is found by taking 30 percent of the payor’s gross income and subtracting 20 percent of the recipient’s gross income. The amount paid as maintenance plus the recipient’s income may not exceed 40 percent of the couple’s combined income.

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alimony, support, DuPage County family lawyerWith relatively significant changes regarding divorce and child custody going into effect this month, some of the smaller updates to the law may be going somewhat unnoticed. While some, such as new requirements for courts to enter the judgment within 60 days of the close of proofs, will have more of a procedural impact than substantive, others, such as those regarding spousal maintenance, can have an effect not only on the immediate order but on the potential for modification in the future.

Spousal Maintenance

In the state of Illinois, there is no presumed right to spousal maintenance in a divorce. Of course, a couple may negotiate a conscionable agreement regarding spousal support, and in such cases, the court will enter the agreement as an enforceable order. Absent an agreement, however, the court must examine the circumstances of the marriage and divorce in deciding whether or not such an award is appropriate. The court must take into account, among other factors:

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Illinois divorce lawyer, spousal maintenance, Illinois family law attorney,On Jan. 1, 2015, Illinois legislators passed new laws that govern the duration and amount of alimony payments. Many of the regulations apply to divorcing couples with a gross income of $250,000.

According to the revised law, “maintenance” is the new term for “alimony” in Illinois, but they both refer to spousal support. A judge determines whether to award maintenance based on 12 statutory factors.

Before January 2015, the calculation and duration were at the sole discretion of the judge. This led to noticeable variations from county to county, and from judge to judge. The legislation aimed to create uniformity in spousal support awards. The laws put the following formulas and guidelines into effect:

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Posted on in Spousal Support

Illinios divorce attorney, Illinois family law attorney, alimony reform lawsAs more women tend to work outside the home and lead independent lives outside of their husbands, the issue and necessity of alimony — or spousal support — has come into question in recent years. Many states have recently passed alimony reform laws; some abolish the practice of lifetime alimony payments, others make it more difficult for ex-spouses to prove the need for financial support. In Illinois, for example, ended lifetime alimony and passed legislation that ends alimony payments when the ex-spouse receiving alimony begins to cohabitate with a new partner. Other states, Massachusetts for example, caps the number of years or months during which alimony should be paid based on the duration of the marriage. According to Forbes, this is dangerous water to tread for many women facing divorce.

The good news is that the final alimony decree is never final—it can be modified or changed in court if need be. A “substantial change in circumstances” can warrant alimony modification. There is no one specific definition of what this change must be to warrant modification; this is left to the discretion of the judge. One such example would be if the spouse receiving alimony remarries to a person wealthier than the ex-spouse. In Illinois, (unless the newlyweds were not living together) remarriage would result in termination of the alimony order anyway.

Another instance in which alimony could be modified or terminated is if the financial situation of the spouse paying alimony significantly changes. If an ex-husband, for example, loses his job or resigns his job as a stockbroker to pursue a life as a teacher, thus incurring a significant decrease in salary, he could likely qualify to have the alimony order modified.

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alimony order, Illinois divorce lawyer, Illinois family law attorney, alimony modification,Alimony, or spousal maintenance as it is called in Illinois, is monetary support paid one spouse by the other, to maintain roughly the same standard of living enjoyed during the marriage, after divorce. The court will rule in favor of maintenance in Illinois, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), depending on, among other things: the length of the marriage, disparity in earnings of the two partners, whether there are children, and if so, who will be the primary caretaker, and whether one spouse “has given up career opportunities due to the marriage.”  Maintenance will not necessarily ensure that both partners can enjoy the same standard of living after the marriage, because living separately is, in most cases, significantly more expensive than living together.

Maintenance will be paid until the court decides it can be terminated. One major reason that an order for maintenance will terminate is if the party receiving the payments moves in with someone else. According to the AAML, the ex-spouse must be living with someone else on what is determined to be a “resident, continuing, conjugal basis.” This type of cohabitation, in regards to spousal maintenance, is currently a challenging aspect of family law, according to a recent report. The court must determine that the person receiving maintenance is in a “supportive relationship,” which can be tricky to legally prove.

Furthermore, in order to terminate the order, the person paying the maintenance must be able to legally prove that his or her ex-spouse is indeed living with someone else. In the technological era—when cell phones can oftentimes make deception easier—it can be “virtually impossible to effectively prove cohabitation, especially when the cohabiting individuals can manipulate the times they live with one another,” according to the report.

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The Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C.

630-409-8184

1444 North Farnsworth Avenue, Suite 307, Aurora, IL 60505

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