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Batavia divorce attorney spousal maintenance

In many marriages, it is not uncommon for one spouse to have a higher income than the other spouse. In these situations, the lesser-earning spouse relies on the higher-earning spouse to facilitate and maintain the way of life they are used to. In some cases, the lesser-earning spouse may not even be employed and may have been a homemaker and contributed to the household that way. When couples who have a significant imbalance in income get a divorce, the lesser-earning spouse is often awarded spousal support in Illinois, which is also known as spousal maintenance or alimony.

Receiving Spousal Maintenance

Spousal maintenance is never guaranteed in any divorce. However, some people are still required to pay spousal support because of a previously entered marital agreement. If you and your spouse have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, the court will examine these documents to ensure that they are valid. If they are found to be valid, you will have to abide by the terms of the agreement you agreed to prior. If your agreement is deemed invalid or you did not have an agreement, the court will determine whether or not spousal maintenance is appropriate by looking at a variety of factors. These elements can include things such as you and your spouse’s age, health, occupation, education, work history, contribution to the marriage, and more.


North Aurora spousal support attorney

Getting a divorce means a lot of changes will occur. One of the most noticeable is your change in income. Most married couples live and run their household off of two incomes. When you get divorced, you have to transition from sustaining a household under shared incomes to meeting your needs with your income alone. For spouses who have not worked during their marriage or who have recently entered the workforce, this can be problematic. People who make significantly less than their spouses may also be concerned about their ability to support themselves after divorce. In these cases, spousal maintenance may be awarded. But what happens when your situation does not fall under the normal guidelines for calculation?

Illinois Spousal Support Guidelines

There are a number of factors that can affect whether or not you receive a maintenance award. These factors can include the income of both you and your spouse, whether or not either of you were out of the workforce for a period of time, and each of your needs. If the court finds that an award is appropriate, and you and your spouse earn a combined income of less than $500,000, the court will follow normal guidelines. This means spousal maintenance will be calculated by taking 33.3 percent of the income of the paying spouse and subtracting 25 percent of the income of the receiving spouse. Maintenance will usually be paid monthly, but in some cases, it may be paid annually or in a lump sum at the time of divorce.


Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyer, Illinois parenting time and responsibilities lawyer,Divorce is always complicated, no matter how you look at it. There are many issues you must settle before you can finalize your divorce, one of those being the issue of alimony or spousal maintenance. In Illinois divorce cases, spousal maintenance is never guaranteed -- some people will ask for maintenance and not receive it, some will never even bring the issue up and some are actually awarded maintenance when they seek it. For some people, maintenance is a necessity to help them survive, at least for the first couple of months after the divorce. Illinois spousal maintenance laws changed starting January 1, 2019. These laws affect the way spousal maintenance is calculated, so it is important that you understand the changes if you have not yet finalized your divorce.

Old Maintenance Laws

Prior to 2019, spousal maintenance was calculated by taking 30 percent of the payer’s income and subtracting 20 percent of the receiver’s income. This was a valid calculation for any couple whose combined annual income was less than $500,000, though the total maintenance awarded was not able to be more than 40 percent of the couple’s combined income when adding the payment to the receiver’s income.


Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyer,When you are going through a divorce as a stay-at-home parent, you often have different things to worry about than if you were a working parent. Most of the time, stay-at-home parents sacrificed their careers or education to stay home and take care of the children. This can be problematic for them because stay-at-home parents typically rely on the income of their spouse to support the family. When you get a divorce, you find yourself being put into a situation where you must re-enter the workforce with little or outdated education and large gaps in your employment history. In these situations, spousal maintenance is used as a tool to keep you on your feet. Here are five steps you should take when you are a stay-at-home parent who is getting a divorce.

Gather All of Your Financial Documents

First things first -- you need to have all paperwork on your finances ready to present to a divorce lawyer. These documents can include:

  • Tax returns and W2’s from the previous three to five years;
  • Bank statements, including information on both checking and savings accounts;
  • Mortgage documents;
  • Vehicle titles;
  • Retirement account statements;
  • Credit card statements; and
  • Investment account statements.

Ensure You Have Access to Your Money

Some stay-at-home parents find that they do not have regular access to their family’s funds. If this is the case, you should make sure that you begin saving small amounts of money here and there to build up a reserve. One way around letting your spouse know you are saving money is by asking for cash back when you are at stores. If you have reason to believe your spouse might be hiding money from you, you should tell your lawyer who can help you discover it.


alimonyUnlike child support, spousal support is not guaranteed in Illinois divorces. When you get a divorce and you and your ex have a child together, the spouse who has the child a majority of the time will receive child support payments, whereas it will be determined whether or not a maintenance award is even appropriate. Certain circumstances and factors are examined to make this determination, including the income of each spouse, any impairment of each spouse’s earning capacity, the duration of the marriage and the standard of living that was established during the marriage. Even if you are awarded a maintenance payment, the length of the award depends on a number of factors, as well. Length of Marriage Will Determine Length of Payments.

According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, the length of time you were married will directly impact the length of time you are paid maintenance payments. The Act outlines specific multipliers to use with the length of marriage in years to find out the duration of your payments. Examples of the multiplying factors include:

  • Less than five years of marriage to seven years of marriage: .20-.32;
  • Eight years of marriage to 10 years of marriage: .36-.44;
  • Eleven years of marriage to 13 years of marriage: .48-.56;
  • Fourteen years of marriage to 16 years of marriage: .60-.68;
  • Seventeen years of marriage to 19 years of marriage: .72-.80; and
  • Twenty years or more of marriage: Equal to the length of the marriage or indefinitely.

For example, a person that was married to their spouse for 16 years will receive payments for 10.88 years. When a maintenance order is entered, there must be an extreme change in circumstances for the duration or amount of maintenance paid to be changed. An Aurora, IL Spousal Maintenance Lawyer Can Help


If you are going through a divorce, you may wonder if you’re entitled to financial support from your spouse. Spousal maintenance is the term that the state of Illinois uses instead of alimony, though they are the same thing. In the past, courts viewed alimony as payments from the husband to continue his obligation to support his wife. Now, spousal maintenance is awarded to either spouse depending on a variety of factors.

Determining Factors for Spousal Maintenance Eligibility

When you seek maintenance from your spouse, the court will first determine whether or not you are eligible to receive these payments. In Illinois, eligibility determinations are based on these factors:


How can Infidelity Affect Your Alimony in a Divorce?, alimony, spousal support, divorce, adultery, law officeAfter a divorce, many people find out that there are certain evaluations about what they have contributed to the marriage financially that must be made. There can be circumstances where both the husband and wife work outside the home and share equal earning power. Another common scenario is where one party to the divorce primarily contributes time and energy to the development of the family and home while the other works outside of the home to primarily provide financial stability.

Alimony, which in Illinois is called maintenance, is the money that one spouse pays the other to ensure that both parties are situated in a financially equitable position after the divorce. The idea behind alimony is ensuring that one spouse is not unjustly enriched at the expense of the other spouse.

When Is Alimony Ordered in the Divorce Process?  


Posted on in Spousal Support

maintenance, Aurora divorce attorneyIn a recent post on this blog, we discussed the criteria used by Illinois courts to determine whether spousal maintenance was appropriate following a divorce. The law requires a court to look at various factors relevant to the marriage and each spouse’s financial situation to ensure that a need for spousal support actually exists. If maintenance is found to be appropriate, the court must then calculate how much is to be paid and for how long. Illinois law also provides guidance regarding these considerations as well.

Maintenance Amounts

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) provides a specific formula to be used in situations where the couple’s combined income is less than $250,000 per year and the paying party has no other obligations for maintenance or child support from a previous relationship. In such a case, the amount of support to be paid is found by taking 30 percent of the paying spouse’s gross income and subtracting 20 percent of the receiving spouse’s net income. The difference will be the amount expected to be paid unless that amount plus the recipient’s income equals more than 40 percent of the couple’s combined income.


maintenance, Aurora divorce attorneyIf nostalgic television programs are to be believed, the “model” American family looked very different several decades ago as compared to today. In many cases, one spouse—usually the husband—was the sole wage-earner while the other spouse—usually the wife—stayed home to manage the household and the children. While this scenario was not the reality in every family, it was common enough that if a marriage ended in divorce, most people presumed that the husband would be required to pay alimony to his wife so that she could continue meeting her day-to-day needs as well as those of the children.

Over the last few decades, there has been a dramatic shift in the family unit. Today, very few families can afford to survive on a single income, and the roles of each spouse may be defined to meet the particular family’s needs rather that adhering to strict social expectations. Such changes have also been reflected in Illinois laws regarding divorce, with a focus on making the process as equitable as possible. For this reason, alimony—also known as maintenance—is not guaranteed in a divorce proceeding, and will not be awarded unless the court determines that an actual need exists.

Factors to Consider


new partner, DuPage County family law attorneyWhen you are required to pay alimony—also known as spousal maintenance under Illinois law—your payments are intended to help your former spouse alleviate some of the financial impact of the divorce. To a certain extent, maintenance is also used to help an economically disadvantaged spouse retain a semblance of the lifestyle the two of you enjoyed during your marriage. But, what happens when your spouse meets someone new? Could his or her new relationship affect your requirements for continuing spousal support payments?

An order for spousal maintenance is typically set for a specific number of months or years. Alternatively, the payments may be ordered to continue on a permanent basis. “Permanent,” however, only means that there is no date set on which the order will be terminated. It does mean that the payments will continue forever no matter what. There are certain factors or occurrences that could allow you to stop paying maintenance to your ex-spouse despite a permanent award.

Standard of Living


Posted on in Divorce

cheating, Aurora family law attorneyAlong with lack of commitment and arguing, infidelity joins the ranks of the top three reasons a marriage results in divorce. In one survey, up to 55 percent of the those who were divorcing cited that infidelity was among the primary culprits. Marriage counsellors everywhere are always watching for signs of infidelity, stating that it nearly always starts as an emotional affair that results in a physical one. However things progressed to that point, the point is that the couple now intends to split. Can cheating have a large impact on divorce outcomes?

Effects on Divorce

Unlike some other states, Illinois is considered to be a “no fault” state when it comes to dissolution of marriage. The idea that you can divorce each other and you win everything because your spouse cheated does not ring true in most cases in the Land of Lincoln. Beginning in 2016, a divorce can only be granted in the state on the no-fault grounds of irreconcilable differences.


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.


maintenance, Aurora family law attorneyFinancial and property considerations can be very complicated parts of the divorce process. It is often difficult to determine who should get what, and how much is fair based on the specific circumstances of the case. For many couples, the concepts of dividing marital assets and spousal maintenance represent two, very separate ideas. In reality, however, they are often very closely related, and in many cases, decisions regarding one directly affects the other.

Spousal Maintenance

Spousal maintenance, or alimony as it is sometimes called, is intended to help a financially-disadvantaged spouse alleviate some of the economic impact of a divorce and a post-divorce life. To determine if maintenance is needed, in the absence of an agreement between the spouses, the court must take into account a number of factors regarding the marriage and divorce. These include each spouse’s income and needs, the contributions to the marriage and toward the earning capacity of the other, as well as the length of the marriage and the established standard of living.


spousal maintenance, alimony, Illinois family lawyerA common question among those preparing for divorce involves the possibility of spousal maintenance. Previously known as alimony, spousal maintenance is intended to help alleviate the financial impact of a divorce to one spouse or the other. It is important to understand, however, that there is no presumed right to receive spousal support after a divorce. Instead, except for a valid agreement between the spouses, it is up to the court to determine if support is appropriate.

Statutory Considerations

To say that spousal maintenance is only appropriate for an economically disadvantaged spouse is an oversimplification. In reality, there are a number of factors the court must take into account when deciding whether or not to order an award, including, but not limited to:


fixed-term maintenance, alimony, DuPage County family law attorneyWhen a divorce leaves one spouse economically disadvantaged, courts in Illinois are granted the discretion to award spousal maintenance, or alimony, for a period of time following the dissolution of marriage. The purpose of such an award is to provide an opportunity for the spouse receiving maintenance to regain financial independence, if possible, or, if not, to help maintain some semblance of the lifestyle to which he or she was accustomed during the marriage.

Making a Maintenance Determination

In deciding whether or not maintenance is needed or appropriate in a given situation, the court must look at a number of relevant factors regarding the marriage. According the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, these considerations include, but are not limited to:


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:


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.


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.


spousal support, Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois alimony lawyer, marital assets, For the last 30 years, Illinois law has included specific provisions for calculating child support which provide the courts a standardized formula to increase consistency throughout the state. Spousal maintenance guidelines, however, were not specifically quantified; instead the appropriateness, amount, and duration of a maintenance order have been left to the consideration of the court. As viewpoints and opinions differ between judges, there has been growing concern that maintenance orders may depend more on which court hears the case than on the law itself.

Illinois Public Act 098-0961 was enacted on August 15, 2014, to address the inconsistency of spousal maintenance. Going into effect on January 1, the act amends the existing law to include a mathematical formula for determining the recommended amount of maintenance to be paid in most cases. Additionally, the amendment provides guidelines regarding the duration of the support order and permits the court to enforce fixed-term maintenance based on the length of the marriage.

Under the amended law, the court maintains its discretion in establishing “whether a maintenance award is appropriate” and which spouse should be provided support. Consideration must be given to “all relevant factors” which may include each party's:


alimony, alimony payments, Aurora family law attorney, spousal maintenance, spousal supportThe history of alimony as a legal concept dates back centuries and has evolved greatly into its contemporary application. In modern day Illinois, alimony payments are determined by several differing factors. Therefore hiring a family law attorney to assist with these matters is essential to achieving the best possible outcomes.

Alimony in Illinois is often referred to as maintenance, as opposed to the term “spousal support” which is favored in many other states. The definition of maintenance in Illinois family law is very literal and is intended to do exactly what the name suggests. Although there are a few different types of maintenance, the intention in Illinois is to ensure both parties “achieve a lifestyle comparable to that during marriage.”

Divorce maintenance in Illinois is generally awarded in one of the following ways, although the specific details are certainly case-specific. These include:

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


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

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