Archive for the ‘spousal support’ 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.

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.