Archive for the ‘Post-Decree Modification’ Category

Post-Decree Modifications: Maintenance Obligations

March 5th, 2015 at 6:00 pm

post-decree modifications, support obligations, Illinois family law attorneysA divorce decree is not necessarily absolute. When either or both parties experience a substantial change in circumstances then they can seek a post-decree modification of spousal support obligations. (Note that property divisions generally will not be modified. However, the court may make an exception if marital property that was not known at the time of the divorce is later discovered.)

So what constitutes a “substantial change” in circumstances? Examples include winning the lottery, losing your job and being diagnosed with a serious illness and incurring hefty medical expenses. But what constitutes a “substantial change” for one family might not be substantial for another. Thus, there is no pre-determined set of circumstances that automatically trigger modification. Instead, when the court entertains a modification petition it will consider various factors, such as:

  • Changes in employment status and whether the change was made in good faith;
  • Efforts made by the party receiving maintenance to become self-supporting, and whether those efforts are reasonable;
  • Impairment of either party’s present and future earning capacity;
  • Any tax consequences that the maintenance payments have on either party’s economic circumstances;
  • How long the supporting party has been making maintenance payments and how many payments must still be paid, relative to the duration of the marriage;
  • The property awarded to each party in the original divorce decree and the present status of that property;
  • Whether either party’s income has increased or decreased since the divorce decree was entered;
  • The property acquired and currently owned by each party since the divorce decree was entered; and
  • Each party’s needs, including age and physical and emotional condition.

petition seeking modification must be filed in the same court where the original judgment was entered. If neither party resides there, either they or the court may move to transfer the case to a more appropriate venue (usually to the county or judicial circuit where either or both of the parties reside).

The obligation to make maintenance payments also terminates in certain situations by statute. The most obvious example is the death of either party. However, death of the party paying support does not terminate the survivor’s right to receive death benefits from a life insurance policy. The obligation also terminates if the receiving party remarries or cohabits with another person on a continuing conjugal basis.

If you are seeking modification of a divorce decree, contact one of our Chicago divorce attorneys today for a free consultation. We have offices in Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, Orland Park and downtown Chicago.