Spousal Maintenance

Spousal Maintenance in Chicago

Section 504 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act sets forth the guidelines for awarding maintenance (otherwise known as alimony) to a spouse. Maintenance is only available to those who have been married, and is not an option for unmarried couples. Maintenance may be granted by a court on a temporary or permanent basis for either spouse in amounts as the courts deems just without regard to marital misconduct, after considering the following:

  • The income and property of each party, including marital property apportioned and non-marital property assigned to the party seeking maintenance;
  • The needs of each party;
  • The present and future earning capacity of each party;
  • Any impairment of the present and future earning capacity of the party seeking maintenance due to that party devoting time to domestic duties or having forgone or delayed education, training, employment or career opportunities due to the marriage;
  • The time necessary to enable the party seeking maintenance to acquire appropriate education, training, and employment, and whether that party can support himself or herself through appropriate employment or is the custodian of a child making it appropriate that the custodian not seek employment;
  • The standard of living established during the marriage;
  • The duration of the marriage;
  • The age and the physical and emotional condition of both parties;
  • The tax consequences of the property division upon the respective economic circumstance of the parties;
  • Contributions and services by the party seeking maintenance to the education, training, career or career potential, or license of the other spouse;
  • Any valid agreement of the parties; and
  • Any other factor that the court expressly finds to be just and equitable.

One of the primary factors to consider, if both parties are able bodied, is the age of the party seeking maintenance, the length of the marriage, and if that party made certain professional/career sacrifices to raise the family. The most common maintenance case is where a spouse stopped working to stay at home to raise the parties’ children. In those situations, one question is how long it will take that spouse to rehabilitate him or herself and get back into the workforce. Another question is what the lifestyle of the parties was during the marriage. For example, if the working spouse during the marriage made a very large income, the non-working spouse may have difficulty in maintaining the lifestyle to which they have been accustomed without continued support from the other spouse. However, if the working spouse always could simply “make ends meet,” there may not be sufficient funds to award maintenance (or very little), especially if the party being asked to pay maintenance is already paying child support.

Clients often find it frustrating that the maintenance law in Illinois does not have a percentage schedule, as with child support. However it is understandable that the law is left for individual Judges to determine the need and appropriate amount of maintenance. Each family situation is different, and maintenance needs to be determined on an individual basis.

Ask an experienced Lawyer for assistance

You’ll need a skilled attorney who understands all of the variables that influence how much maintenance is awarded to a spouse.  Contact our Chicago Divorce Lawyers of M. Scott Gordon & Associates to help you in the process today.  Call our Chicago office at 312.360.0250 or our Skokie office for more information.

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