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When do Illinois courts award spousal maintenance?

Divorce is never easy; people often struggle with painful emotions, difficult negotiations and fears about their financial future. This is why many divorce-related matters become volatile and contentious.

For instance, spousal maintenance is one area where divorcing parties often clash. One party typically feels that he or she deserves financial support while the other party might argue that such payments are not justified. If you anticipate this type of dispute in your divorce, it could help to understand the circumstances under which Illinois courts may award maintenance.

Purpose of alimony

It is important to understand that alimony is not a means of punishing a person for marital misconduct or for actions that led to divorce. Rather, it is a way to alleviate the financial disparities that may exist between spouses.

If one person will be at a disadvantage in terms of supporting himself or herself after a divorce, then the courts may grant that party support temporarily or indefinitely, depending on several factors.

Factors the courts consider

To assess whether support is appropriate and to determine duration, the courts examine:

  • The financial standing of each party after the divorce
  • Each party's needs
  • Realistic earning capacities for each person
  • The amount of time and resources it would take for the party seeking support to secure adequate employment
  • The standard of living parties maintained while married
  • Duration of the marriage
  • Each person's age and health
  • Non-financial contributions to the marriage
  • Agreements reached in a prenuptial agreement or mediation sessions

Based on these and other relevant factors, the courts will determine if there is both a need and an ability to pay maintenance, as well as the duration of an award.

The importance of legal counsel

Whether you are seeking spousal support or expect your ex to request support, legal counsel and guidance can be crucial. Not only can an attorney explain your options, but he or she can also help you negotiate or fight for a fair outcome.

Spousal maintenance is a subjective issue, and every case is different. As such, working with a legal representative who understands the details of your situation, the legal process and how to build an effective case can prove to be valuable.

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