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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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Joliet family law attorneysFor those going through a divorce, the financial demands that come along with the legal process can make things challenging, especially for lower-earning or stay-at-home spouses. Rarely do spouses make the same amount of money, which can sometimes lead to issues throughout the marriage, divorce, and months following the split. In order to make up for this financial discrepancy, Illinois law requires divorcing couples to discuss spousal maintenance, also known as spousal support, and divorcing parents to create an agreement regarding child support obligations. Those in a cooperative divorce can typically create these legal designations with the help of their attorneys, while those battling it out in a courtroom will have these decisions made for them by a judge. Your divorce agreement is meant to last the tests of time, but what about when circumstances change? Many divorcees will seek out new romantic relationships as time passes, and in some cases, these new partners can impact the details of your divorce agreement.

Spousal Support

Any changes to your divorce agreement are known as post-divorce modifications. In any instance of adjustment, the requesting party must show a substantial change in circumstances. When it comes to spousal support obligations, the following circumstances warrant the termination of spousal maintenance:

  1. The death of either party
  2. The remarriage of the party who receives maintenance
  3. The cohabitation of the receiving party with another person on a continuing conjugal basis

As you can see, living with a new partner can lead to the automatic termination of spousal support. The purpose of spousal support is for one spouse to help the other until it is no longer financially necessary. These financial obligations are not meant to last forever. In fact, there are three different types of spousal support agreements that may be made. Fixed-term maintenance requires the paying party to provide financial support for a specific period of time, and at the end of that period they are no longer responsible for assisting their former spouse. Indefinite maintenance is an agreement with no specified end date, leaving this determination up in the air until modification or termination is requested. Reviewable maintenance sets a particular arrangement for a specified period of time, having both parties review the arrangement every few years.

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Will County alimony lawyerf you believe what you see on TV and in the movies, the “average” American family once looked quite different from what it looks like today. In many homes, the man of the house worked full time, while his wife was a stay-at-home mother and homemaker. Of course, this was not how every family worked, but the situation was so common that when a divorce occurred, it was practically assumed that the husband would make support payments—called alimony—to the wife to help her make ends meet.

In the last 40 years or so, much has changed about family life. Today, only a select few households can afford for just one spouse to work. Additionally, each spouse’s role can now be customized to meet their family’s needs with far less concern about social pressures or gender-based expectations. These changes have been reflected in divorce laws across the country, including here in Illinois, with lawmakers intent on making divorce as fair as possible for all couples. One example can be found in the state’s laws regarding alimony—now called spousal maintenance—and the fact that it will not always be ordered in divorce cases.

Important Factors

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5) says that if there is no prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that addresses the issue of maintenance, the court must determine that a need exists for such payments before they can be ordered. To determine need, the court will look at a number of factors related to the marriage and divorce, including:

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