When spousal maintenance is awarded in an Illinois divorce case, one spouse is ordered to pay the other financial support once the divorce is finalized. Spousal maintenance is one of the most hotly contested aspects of divorce, and it is also very misunderstood. Some believe only men are ordered to pay maintenance, while others believe that they will receive payments forever. These are just two of the most common myths surrounding spousal maintenance. The truths behind them are included with the top six misconceptions below.
Spousal Maintenance Is Permanent
Maintenance is only intended to help someone get back on their feet financially once the divorce is finalized. Once the recipient reenters the job market or can fully support themselves, the other may petition the court to stop the support payments. In other instances, maintenance may last for an even shorter amount of time, such as when the spouses are still going through the divorce and before it is finalized.
The Terms of Maintenance Are Permanent
Even while a person continues to make maintenance payments, the terms of the order can be modified. For example, a person paying maintenance may lose their job, or the recipient may get a better job. Both of these situations would change the financial capability of one party, which could result in the court modifying a maintenance order.
Spousal Maintenance Is Always Awarded
Due to the fact that maintenance was once commonly awarded in most divorce cases, many people still believe that a judge will automatically order it. That is not the case. Today it is more common for both spouses to have an education and a career, which means neither spouse may be ordered to pay maintenance. The court will consider many factors when determining whether maintenance is appropriate, and sometimes they decide that it is not.
Maintenance Payments Are Not Subject to Taxes
This misconception is a bit trickier due to the fact that the law changed in 2019. Maintenance awarded in any divorce finalized after January 1, 2019, is not subject to taxes. Recipients can no longer claim it as income and those that pay maintenance can no longer deduct it from their taxes. If maintenance was awarded in a divorce case finalized prior to December 31, 2018, on the other hand, it is subject to taxes. In these cases, the recipient can claim it as income and the person paying it can deduct it from their taxes.
You Do Not Qualify for Maintenance if You Filed First
Again, there are many factors a judge will take into consideration when awarding spousal maintenance. The person that filed first is not one of them. Even if you file for divorce first, you can still ask for maintenance, although there is no guarantee the court will award it.
Our Illinois Family Lawyers Can Help with Maintenance Issues
If you are considering divorce and would like to know more about spousal maintenance, call our dedicated Hinsdale family lawyers at the Law Office of Martoccio & Martoccio. We will answer all of your questions and advise on whether you are eligible for maintenance, or help you defend against unfair requests for support. When you need legal advice, call us at 630-920-8855 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our knowledgeable attorneys.