b2ap3_thumbnail_Untitled---2024-03-18T100201.262.jpgWhen a marriage comes to an end, particularly under circumstances where one spouse is primarily responsible for the divorce, emotions can become heated. In some cases, a person may believe that their spouse should be punished for infidelity or other actions that led to the breakdown of their relationship. If you are planning to end your marriage in Illinois, you may wonder whether being the “innocent” spouse might impact your eligibility for alimony, also known as spousal maintenance. As you address this issue and other divorce-related concerns, it is important to understand the nuances of Illinois law regarding spousal maintenance and fault in a divorce. An experienced attorney can guide you through the complexities of divorce law and help you understand your rights and options.

Spousal Maintenance in Illinois: An Overview

Spousal maintenance is not automatically granted in Illinois divorces. The court will consider several factors to determine whether maintenance is appropriate and, if so, its amount and duration. However, it is important to understand that the purpose of spousal support is to maintain equality between spouses and ensure that they will both have enough financial resources to support themselves. Spousal maintenance will typically consist of monthly payments by one party to the other, and it is meant to ensure that a person who earns less than their former partner will be able to continue living at the standard the spouses were accustomed to while they were married. 

Because Illinois follows “no-fault” divorce principles, courts do not consider “marital misconduct” when making decisions about most divorce-related issues, including spousal maintenance. So, even if your spouse committed infidelity or engaged in behavior that led to the breakdown of your marriage, they cannot be required to pay you alimony as a penalty.

Factors Considered for Spousal Maintenance

While courts will not consider who is at fault for the divorce, they will look at several other factors to determine the necessity, amount, and duration of spousal maintenance. Some of these factors include:

  • Income and property of each spouse: This includes both marital and non-marital assets and debts.
  • Needs of each spouse: This considers the living standards established during the marriage and the expenses that each spouse will need to address on an ongoing basis.
  • Present and future earning capacity: This includes the time and resources required for the spouse seeking maintenance to gain appropriate education or training.
  • Age and physical and emotional health: These issues can impact each party’s earning capacity and needs.
  • Duration of the marriage: Longer marriages often result in maintenance being paid for longer terms.
  • Contributions to the other spouse’s career or education: If one spouse supported the other and helped them improve their ability to earn a higher income, this may be considered when determining whether spousal support will be appropriate.

No-Fault Divorce and Its Impact

Since Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, spouses do not have to provide a reason for why they wished to get divorced other than the fact that “irreconcilable differences” have led to the breakdown of the marriage, and it would not be beneficial for the family to try to repair the relationship. Instead of focusing on who was at fault for the end of a marriage, a divorce will address the issues involved in separating the spouses’ lives from each other and ensuring that both parties will be able to move forward successfully after dissolving their marriage.

The no-fault principle extends to most issues addressed during the divorce process, including spousal support.  Whether one spouse cheated or abandoned the marriage generally will not influence a family court judge’s decisions about alimony. However, there are some forms of marital misconduct that may be considered, including domestic violence or abuse. If one spouse’s abusive actions have caused the other to suffer financial losses or have affected their ability to maintain employment and support themselves, spousal maintenance payments may be awarded to ensure that the victim of abuse will be able to meet their financial needs.

Contact a Kane County Spousal Maintenance Lawyer

Navigating the complexities of spousal maintenance in Illinois can be challenging, especially during the emotional turmoil of a divorce. If you have questions about alimony or any aspect of your divorce, a St. Charles spousal support attorney at Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC., can provide you with the guidance and support you need. To discuss your case and learn more about how we can assist you, contact us today at 630-665-7300 to set up an initial attorney meeting.