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Joliet family law attorneyThe prospect of getting a divorce can be daunting, not only because of the major life changes it will bring, but also because of the many expenses associated with the process. You may be concerned about how the divorce will affect your financial stability, especially if you are ordered to pay spousal support, otherwise known as alimony or maintenance. You should know that an attorney can help you avoid financial hardship related to a spousal support order both during and after the divorce process.

Will I Be Ordered to Pay Alimony?

Many people are under the assumption that alimony is a part of every divorce resolution, but in Illinois, this is not the case. You will not automatically be ordered to pay spousal support just because you are getting divorced, nor simply because your spouse asks for it. Furthermore, spousal support is not used as a punishment for something that either spouse did to damage the marriage, so you do not need to worry about your past behavior influencing the court’s decision on this matter.

Illinois spousal support is instead typically based on a spouse’s need, such as when they are unable to support themselves or maintain their accustomed standard of living on their own after the divorce. If your spouse is financially secure, it is unlikely that you will be ordered to pay support. Similarly, if you and your spouse both have limited means, the court may determine that a spousal support order is unwarranted. When support is ordered, the amount is usually based on a calculation involving a percentage of each spouse’s income, which may protect you from an order that is beyond your means.

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If My Ex Remarries, Am I Still Obligated to Pay Spousal Support?After your divorce proceedings are finalized and all the dust settles, it can sometimes still feel as if you have marital obligations to your former spouse. Spousal support is often a requirement for divorced couples, and if you share children, you will continue to communicate and see each other in the years to come. Spousal support, also known as alimony or spousal maintenance, is the financial support from the higher-earning spouse to the other. Oftentimes, these payments are made monthly and the allotted amount is determined and mandated by the court. All spousal support agreements vary, both in amount and timeline, and you may be wondering how long the payments will go on. As the years go by, this financial assistance can begin to seem unnecessary, especially if your former spouse is in a serious relationship with someone new. Luckily, Illinois law addresses the instances that warrant spousal support adjustments or termination for situations such as these.

Adjusting Spousal Support Obligations

Is the possibility of marriage on your former spouse’s horizon? This situation arises for many divorced couples and warrants adjustments to your spousal support obligations. According to Illinois law, there are three situations that warrant immediate termination of spousal support obligations: the death of either spouse, the remarriage of the receiving spouse, or if the receiving spouse begins cohabitating with another person. Because the purpose of alimony is to help the lower-earning spouse stay afloat, if a new spouse comes into the picture, then the financial assistance is no longer necessary. 

If your spouse does not remarry, but you believe that you have a case to modify your spousal support obligations, it is best to discuss your situation with a divorce attorney to verify that it qualifies for an adjustment. According to Illinois law, spousal maintenance obligations may be modified or terminated if the paying party can prove that there has been a substantial change in circumstances, such as the following:

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What Factors are Considered When Calculating Spousal Maintenance in Illinois?After deciding to cut ties with your spouse, it can be difficult to imagine a life without them. You may know that divorce is the best decision for you both; however, that does not always mean that the transition is seamless. You experience being truly on your own for the first time since getting married, both emotionally and financially. While the emotional transition can be a rollercoaster of highs and lows, adjusting to a single income can be the most difficult change of all. Maybe you were a one-income household with one parent staying home, or perhaps you both had a steady income. Regardless, getting used to living off one paycheck, while working on the emotional distress that comes with divorce, can be enough to send someone into a spiral. Fortunately, spousal maintenance can supplement your finances if your former spouse has a greater income than you.

What Does the Court Look At?

To help divorcing couples adjust and survive, the court will often require one spouse to pay their ex a particular amount each month. While they may use an equation of sorts, there are a variety of other factors that play into a judge’s decision for these payments. Spousal maintenance requirements vary in amount, frequency, and lifespan. In other words, every divorce agreement is unique, including the amount of money that will be given by one former spouse to the other. According to Illinois statutes regarding spousal maintenance, the following factors are considered while making decisions regarding these payments:

  • The property and income of each party, including any assets that are assigned in the property division process
  • The possible present and future earning capacity of each party
  • Time devoted to domestic work throughout their marriage and decisions made to defer education or employment opportunities as a result of the marriage
  • The time it will take the deserved party to acquire proper training, education, and employment and how well this job position would allow them to support themselves
  • The duration of the marriage and their standard of living at the time of divorce
  • All sources of income that each party has access to, including retirement and disability income

When the court comes to an agreement on the spousal maintenance amounts, they must provide the two parties with the reasoning behind their choices. The findings report will include information regarding why the court did or did not require spousal maintenance payments to be made and an explanation of what factors contributed to their decision.

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Modifying Maintenance Orders After Your Illinois DivorceFor many people, a divorce is a new start to their lives. The finalization of a divorce is a cause for celebration, especially considering how long and difficult the divorce process can be. Though you may want to forget that your former spouse exists after your divorce is over with, you may never truly be 100 percent separate from him or her, especially if you have children together. Many divorces will end with certain child support, spousal maintenance and parental responsibility orders being given, but that does not mean they are permanent. In some cases, you may need to revisit these issues and come to a new agreement. If this happens, you will have to petition for an order modification.

Factors Considered for Maintenance Modification

Either spouse – the payer or the receiver – can request to have spousal maintenance orders modified. Maintenance orders will be modified only if there is a significant change in circumstances to either spouse’s situation. In order to determine whether or not a modification is called for, the judge will look at a variety of factors, including:

  • Any change in employment status of either spouse and whether or not that change was made in good faith;
  • The efforts made by the receiving spouse to become self-supporting;
  • Any impairment of the present and future earning capacity of either spouse;
  • The tax consequences of the maintenance payments for each spouse;
  • The duration of the maintenance payments paid in relation to the length of the marriage;
  • The property awarded to each spouse in the divorce;
  • The increase or decrease in each spouse’s income since ordering the maintenance payments; and
  • The property acquired and currently owned by each spouse.

The factors used during the initial maintenance determination will also be considered when a modification to the maintenance order is requested.

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Will County spousal support attorney

Getting spousal support is not guaranteed in any Illinois divorce. Before a judge decides to award spousal maintenance to either spouse in a divorce, you must prove that there is a reasonable need for you to be awarded support. Getting a divorce can sometimes leave one spouse in a worse financial situation than the other spouse, and the income of each spouse is often used as one of the main driving forces behind the decision to award spousal maintenance. Spousal support is used as a way to help a financially dependent spouse eventually become financially independent, which is why not all divorce cases require spousal maintenance. 

Factors for Consideration

Illinois law states that there are certain factors that judges must consider in order to award spousal maintenance to one spouse. These factors include:

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