Archive for the ‘spousal maintenance’ tag

How Spousal Support Can Help You After a Divorce

April 8th, 2015 at 2:49 pm

spousal support, spousal maintenance, Chicago family law attorneySpousal support, known as spousal maintenance in Illinois, is when one spouse pays the other spouse a set amount of money after a divorce for his or support. The length of time a spouse is required to make payments varies from case to case and may change based on the parties’ future circumstances, such as the spouse remarrying. One thing that does not change is that spousal support payments can help a spouse who has earned less or stayed at home during the marriage to improve his or her quality of life after divorce.

Become Self Supportive

If you have skills, but have not worked due to staying at home or the nature of your ex-spouse’s job, you may receive short-term or long-term spousal payments. You can use the payments to support yourself while you start your own business, find a job, or find another way to support yourself. Having the maintenance payments can enable you to follow your dream of owning your own store or doing something you love. It can also allow you time to find a job you want, or go back to school.

Finish or Obtain an Education

Rehabilitative support can allow the spouse receiving maintenance payments to receive them long enough to complete a degree so they are able to support themselves. Often times, the payments will cover living expenses while they attend college or a vocational program to better their skills and obtain a job.

Maintain Your Standard of Living

If a certain standard of living was maintained during the marriage, spousal support payments can help you maintain a lifestyle as close as possible to that standard. When couples divorce, sometimes one spouse has stayed at home or worked less than the other spouse. Suddenly eliminating the standard that has been set during the marriage can be shocking for some people and spousal support can help you maintain the lifestyle to which you have become accustomed.

Spousal support is not considered necessary in every divorce. Multiple factors will be taken into account, such as standard of living during the marriage, income of both spouses, financial needs of each spouse, earning capability, age, and length of the marriage. You deserve a qualified divorce attorney on your side to help ensure you get the best results for your spousal support.

Filing for divorce is not an easy decision and litigating spousal support issues can be complex. Speaking with an experienced Chicago family law attorney can help alleviate any confusion or stress about the divorce process or spousal support payments. Anderson & Associates, P.C. assists clients in Illinois from one of our five offices, conveniently located in Chicago, Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, and Orland Park.

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.

Remarriage and Spousal Maintenance

February 16th, 2015 at 8:56 pm

spousal maintenance, remarriage, Chicago divorce lawyerFollowing a divorce, many individuals may be required to make spousal maintenance payments (formerly known as alimony) to their former partners. Historically this was done to prevent a homemaker from becoming destitute after a divorce. With the rise of dual-income households, spousal maintenance is increasingly used to give the lesser-earning spouse the financial support he or she needs to complete his or her college education or job training and become fully self-supporting.

In Illinois, the laws that govern spousal maintenance are written into the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. Under this Act, an individual who receives spousal maintenance may stop receiving this support when he or she remarries or cohabitates with another individual. If you are currently paying or receiving spousal maintenance, talk to your attorney about how getting married or moving in with a partner will affect your current maintenance situation.

Types of Spousal Maintenance

The traditional type of spousal maintenance is made in regular installments for the rest of the recipient spouse’s life, known as permanent maintenance.. This type of maintenance could also be terminated through the receiving spouse’s remarriage, cohabitation with another partner, or death of the paying spouse. Remarriage and cohabitation also terminate spousal support payments for individuals who receive rehabilitative maintenance, which is the maintenance designed to help an individual become self-sufficient.

With maintenance in gross, the money paid to the receiving spouse is usually given as one single payment, but can be made in installments. The key difference is that it is non-modifiable, so if the receiving spouse remarries before this payment is completed, the paying spouse still must make the payment.

Termination and Modification of Spousal Maintenance

Getting married again does not automatically terminate a paying spouse’s responsibility to his or her former partner. If he or she wants to pursue a modification or termination of the current maintenance obligation, he or she must file a petition with the court.

If the receiving spouse cohabitates with another partner, he or she spousal maintenance payments should terminate. Cohabitation is defined as a relationship having all of the characteristics of marriage, except for the formal marriage license. To determine whether a couple is cohabitating, the court will consider whether:

  • The couple has joint financial interests such as a lease on a rental property, purchased property, shared credit card, or shared bank account;
  • The couple spends vacations and holidays together; and/or
  • The couple engages in social and professional activities in the same manner as a
  • married couple.

The court also considers the length of the cohabiting couple’s relationship and the amount of time they spend together when determining whether or not a new relationship may terminate an individual’s current maintenance.

Experienced Divorce Attorneys in Illinois

Before moving in with your new partner or choosing to marry again after your divorce, contact our Chicago divorce attorneys to discuss how such a move may affect your maintenance with one of our firm’s experienced divorce attorneys. Our team of lawyers at Anderson & Associates, P.C. can walk you through the process of getting a modification or terminating your maintenance altogether. Call 312-345-9999 to schedule an appointment at any of our five offices in Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, Orland Park and downtown Chicago.

Basic Divorce Terminology

January 22nd, 2015 at 9:12 am

divorce terminology, Illinois divorce attorneyThose who are considering divorce, or have already filed for divorce, are faced with numerous legal terms that can be confusing or overwhelming. For example, in Illinois a divorce is not actually called a divorce; it is technically considered a “dissolution of marriage.” Speaking with an experienced divorce lawyer can help you understand all the terms and definitions you will need to know throughout your divorce proceedings.

If you are considering filing for a divorce, below are some basic legal terms you may want to know:

Dissolution of Marriage: A divorce. Illinois refers to divorce as a dissolution of marriage. It is the process a couple must go through to end their marriage. The process can be completed through traditional litigation in court or through mediation, but ultimately will conclude with the entry of a Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage.

Petition for Dissolution of Marriage: The document you will file with the court requesting  a divorce from your spouse. It will include basic information about your marriage and the grounds for the divorce.

Grounds: A specific reason for the divorce. In your petition for dissolution of marriage, you must state a legal reason for why you are seeking divorce. The grounds for divorce in Illinois are listed in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, which include adultery, desertion, physical or mental cruelty, and irreconcilable differences.

Irreconcilable Differences: A general, “no-fault” divorce. When you allege these grounds in your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, you are saying that you have tried (but failed) to work out your differences with your spouse and you cannot stay married any longer because it will not benefit either party.

Equitable Distribution: method of dividing assets in Illinois. This does not necessarily mean assets will be divided equally, but rather they will be divided fairly. A judge will consider different factors and divide the property among the two spouses as they see is the fairest in light of both parties’ circumstances.

Spousal Maintenance: Formerly known as alimony. Spousal maintenance is a court-ordered amount of financial support awarded to one spouse that the other spouse must pay. A judge can determine whether maintenance is appropriate in your case based on a variety of factors, such as income, assets, potential earning income, and the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage.

Legal terminology can be confusing when it is used in place of “everyday” language. If you need experienced legal counsel to help you file for divorce, contact our Chicago divorce lawyers. Anderson & Associates, P.C. can help you understand the terminology and legal process you will go through in divorce proceedings. Anderson & Associates, P.C. assists clients in Illinois from one of our five offices, conveniently located in Chicago, Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, and Orland Park. Call 312-345-9999 today.

The New Year Brings Changes to Illinois Spousal Support (Alimony) Laws

January 16th, 2015 at 3:10 pm

new Illinois alimony law, divorce lawyer in ChicagoAs the calendar turned over to 2015, new legislation went into effect which amended the existing law in regard to maintenance (formerly known as alimony) calculations and awards in Illinois. Legally referred to as spousal maintenance under Illinois law, alimony represents the financial support payable by one spouse to the other following the couple’s divorce.

Prior to the new law’s adoption, the court had significant discretion in calculating the amount and duration of a maintenance award. To determine an appropriate maintenance award, a presiding judge was expected to consider all relevant factors of the case, including but not limited to:

  • Income and financial needs of both spouses;
  • Educational/training needs of one or both spouses to become self-sufficient after divorce;
  • Lifestyle established during the marriage;
  • Length and impact of the marriage on both spouses.

After consideration of the facts, however, the law offered no guidance for determining a fair award; instead, the judge was to award what he or she found to be appropriate. Obviously what one judge finds to be appropriate, another may not. Two judges may see a similar set of circumstances and find vastly different awards to be fair. Growing concern over unpredictable maintenance awards ultimately led to the creation of a quantifiable standard for awards in the new legislation.

Under the amended law, the court is still responsible for determining whether a maintenance award is appropriate by considering the same relevant factors as previously required. Once maintenance is deemed appropriate, two formulas are used to establish the recommended amount and length of the award. However, these formulas are only used if the spouses’ combined gross incomes are less than $250,000.

Amount of Spousal Maintenance Award

Using the gross income of both partners, the recommended award is equal to 30 percent of the payor’s income minus 20 percent of the payee’s income. When the award is added to the payee’s income, the result may not exceed 40 percent of the couple’s combined income.

Duration of Spousal Maintenance Award

The amended law provides a calculation table used to determine the duration of the award. The length of the marriage, in years, is to be multiplied by a specified value found in the table. The values were established to be directly proportional to marriage length, so that longer marriages result in longer (or permanent) maintenance awards than shorter marriages.

Exceptions to the Standard

Even while providing a formula with which to calculate maintenance awards, the amended law provides the court discretionary leeway when necessary. A judge may determine, based on careful consideration, that the recommended award is not appropriate or sustainable. In such cases, the court must make the calculations prescribed by law and enter as a finding the specific reasons he or she has chosen to deviate from the law’s recommendations.

If you are considering a divorce or would like more information regarding the new spousal maintenance law in Illinois, we can help. Contact an experienced Chicago family law attorney at Anderson & Associates, P.C. for a free initial consultation today. With offices downtown and in Schaumburg, Wheaton, Orland Park, and Northbrook, we conveniently serve clients throughout the Chicago suburban area.