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4 frequently asked questions about spousal maintenance

Divorce is a process that can be confusing for many separating couples. If you are getting divorced in Illinois and have questions about certain topics such as spousal support, it is important to get a basic understanding of the principles and guidelines. Here are some frequently asked questions about spousal maintenance.

1. What factors affect how spousal support is awarded?

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act sets forth how spousal support awarded to either divorcing spouse. The following criteria of both parties are considered:

  • Financial needs
  • Income and property ownership
  • Present and potential earning capacity
  • The standard of living during marriage
  • The duration of marriage
  • Tax consequences of property division

Marital misconduct is not considered in calculating the amount of spousal support. In situations where spouses can support themselves, it is possible that no support will be awarded. The court may balance major earning differences by distributing marital property equitably.

2. Is temporary support available?

Permanent decisions on spousal support are usually delayed until the divorce proceeding has finished. If you or your spouse needs financial support during the proceeding, there are two options. First, you and your spouse may agree on temporary support. If an agreement cannot be reached, a judge may order temporary support that is usually ended with final judgment.

3. How long does support last?

Due to the various types of spousal support, there are differences in how long they continue. Long-term support is usually ordered for a specific period and subject to review to be decreased, increased or canceled. Short-term support for rehabilitative purposes generally lasts until the receiving party can support him or herself. In certain circumstances, the receiving spouse may be able to prove that he or she is permanently unable to be self-supporting. This can result in permanent support payments.

4. How can the payment schedule or amount get changed?

Divorcing couples can determine whether the payments will be subject to changes in certain circumstances. If you and your spouse decide that the payments are unchangeable, payments will only be terminated upon remarriage, cohabitation or death of the supported spouse. If you both agree to make changes to payments, you must show a significant change in financial situations.

Even when you and your spouse can reach amicable agreements, spousal support and other issues can still be confusing. Consulting a family law attorney can help you comprehend the complex divorce process and understand any legal questions that might arise during your proceeding.

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