Of the many issues that crop up during a divorce, alimony and spousal maintenance can be the most contentious. Most parents accept they need to provide child support, but the idea of making payments to their ex in alimony and maintenance is upsetting. Conversely, the spouse seeking support may require it to pay for necessary ongoing living expenses. If you have a question about this complex and contentious subject, Michael C. Craven and the Chicago maintenance lawyers at his firm can help.
When Is Spousal Support Necessary?
Alimony, also called maintenance or spousal support, is not designed to punish the partner who makes more money. Rather, spousal maintenance is intended to provide the other partner with resources to live independently. There are various factors that go into determining if one is entitled to maintenance, but a disparity in earnings is generally the starting point and is very important.
Family law judges in Chicago and throughout Illinois have discretion when deciding on alimony. The first step is for the judge to decide if maintenance is appropriate. Each spouse can provide information to the judge and argue whether maintenance should be awarded. The judge will look at several factors to decide if one is to receive alimony. The factors include among other things: the spouse’s incomes and projected incomes, the length of marriage, the standard of living during the marriage, both the amount of one’s separate non-marital property if the marriage delayed the career or education of a spouse, and other case-specific facts.
Income and Obligations
The judge will review the income and property of the spouses. All kinds of income are considered, such as work income, investment income, business income, distributions from trusts, and more. Each person’s financial obligations also are considered, such as child support.
Ability To Earn Income
The judge will examine each person’s work experience, degrees, and training. The judge may consider whether the partner who wants alimony has limited their career to take care of the home and children. The court also will consider if the spouse that cannot support themselves needs time to get an education or training for a job.
Each Partner’s Needs and Standard of Living
The judge can consider the ongoing living expenses of spouses. These expenses include historical payments for rent, mortgage, utilities, food, car payments, debts, entertainment, travel, and more.
The expenses are typically based on what each partner needs to keep a similar standard of living that both enjoyed when they were married. The judge also may consider the age and health of each spouse.
Illinois’ Maintenance Guidelines
If after determining maintenance is appropriate, most cases will require the judge to apply the statutory maintenance guidelines for calculating how long maintenance is paid and in what amount. However, judges have some discretion and can decide to deviate from the guidelines If the court does not follow the guidelines, the judge must detail the duration and amount that the law allows and why they did not follow the recommendations.
How Long Alimony/ Maintenance Is Paid
The support will be paid for a term based on how long the couple was married. Under the guidelines, maintenance could last between 20% of the length of the marriage if the union were less than five years to 100% of the length of the marriage, or an indefinite time, for marriages of 20 years or more.
Amount of Maintenance
The guideline method for calculating alimony uses a standard equation of 33.3 percent (one-third) of a payer’s monthly net income minus 25 percent (one-quarter) of a receiver’s monthly net income to determine the amount that will be paid every month. However, the maintenance amount, when added to the recipient’s gross income, cannot be more than 40% of the combined gross incomes for both parties.
Speak To Chicago Maintenance Lawyers Today
If you are going through a divorce and have Illinois maintenance (alimony) issues, you do not want to handle it alone. The best way to deal with these complex issues is to work with the Chicago maintenance lawyers at the office of Michael C. Craven.
Our Chicago alimony attorneys work with clients in Chicago and Cook, Lake, Will, DuPage, McHenry, and Kane counties. Contact us today for assistance.
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