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Is Spousal Maintenance Only Paid by the Husband?

Interviewer: What about in regards to spousal maintenance?

Not Gender-Based: If One Spouse Is Earning Substantially More than the Other, He or She May Be Paying Spousal Maintenance

Mark Kezy: Maintenance was formerly referred to as alimony. There are many terms for it, but they call it maintenance in Illinois. If a woman is making more money than her husband and she’s making substantially more money than her husband, she could end up paying spousal support.

Not only could she end up paying a larger portion of the marital estate to the husband, she can actually end up paying spousal support to her husband. This depends on how much he’s making and the disparities in the incomes. For instance, if you have a woman who is making $250,000 and the husband is making $60,000, is she going to pay maintenance? Yes, she is because there’s a substantial disparity in the incomes.

Again, that’s depending on some factors, including the length of the marriage. Let’s use the example of a 20 or 25 year marriage where the husband is making $60,000 and he’s the primary caretaker of the children. The wife is making $250,000, so she’s going to pay child support, she’s going to pay maintenance, and the husband is going to get a larger portion of the marital estate.

How Long Is the Duration of Spousal Maintenance Payments?

Interviewer: In terms of spousal support or maintenance, do people fear that they’ll have to pay it forever or is it of limited duration depending on the length of the marriage?

Mark Kezy: Some people fear that they’re going to have to pay it for the rest of their lives. Whether you have to pay maintenance, how much you have to pay and the length of it depends on a lot of circumstances. Some of the questions in determining maintenance is how much does each spouse earn, how old they are and the length of the marriage.

If you have one party who is a stay-at-home mom and the husband has been the primary breadwinner for the family, he’s going to pay child support and he’s going to pay maintenance.

How much maintenance depends on how much he earns and what the expenses are for the family. How long he’s going to pay that maintenance depends on the length of the marriage. If the parties were married for 10 years, he’s going to pay maintenance and it’s probably going to be for a certain number of years.

In Some Cases, Maintenance Payments Are Renewable at the Discretion of the Court

It will be what we call renewable, which means that the court has the jurisdiction to determine, after a certain amount of term or a certain amount of years, whether the maintenance is going to continue. If it does continue, will it continue at the same amount or will it be reduced? If the marriage is 25 to 30 years and the parties are in their 40s or 50s, you’re looking at a situation where it’s going to be a permanent maintenance.

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