Spousal Maintenance Is Not Guaranteed in Divorce

In previous generations, marital and family relationships looked much different in many ways compared to those today. Many, if not most, relied on a single income—usually the husband’s—while the wife maintained the marital home and cared for the couple’s children. Divorce, although significantly less common than in today’s world, tended to leave one spouse—usually the wife—without the ability to provide for her own financial needs. Spousal maintenance, or alimony as it was known then, would typically be needed to help alleviate the impact of the divorce.

A Changed World

Relationships today are drastically different for both social and financial reasons. Women now are much more empowered to pursue fulfilling and profitable careers, with less emphasis on getting married and starting a family. Of course, many women choose to do both, an option that has not always been so readily available. Finances also play a major part in the roles of each spouse in a marriage. It has been become increasingly difficult, if not impossible, for most families to get by on a single income, meaning both partners must develop and exercise their own individual earning capacity. Over time, this evolution has led to a major shift in the way that a divorce is handled by the court.

Divorce and Money

When a married couple decides to divorce, the law in Illinois makes certain presumptions about what will happen going forward. These presumptions, however, are nearly all in regard to cooperative parenting and avoid the issue of spousal maintenance altogether. Either spouse can ask a court to order support payments, but there is nothing in the law—apart from an existing prenuptial or postnuptial agreement—that would make spousal maintenance automatic.

Instead, each divorce situation must be considered by the court on a case-by-case basis. Absent an agreement between the spouses, the court will take into account a variety of factors including:

  • The age, occupation and earning capacity of each spouse;
  • Each spouse’s needs and financial resources;
  • Contributions of each spouse the marriage, family, and the other’s career;
  • The ability of each spouse to be or to become financially independent;
  • Arrangements made for couple’s children;
  • The length of the marriage;
  • The standard of living during the marriage; and
  • Any other reasonable consideration.

Based on these factors, the court will decide whether or not to award spousal maintenance. The court may also alter the division of property in the divorce to offset the need for such support or vice versa. The court’s decision about maintenance must be supported by findings of fact, clearly indicating the grounds upon which maintenance was or was not deemed necessary.

Spousal Maintenance Questions?

To learn more about the laws governing alimony in Illinois, contact an experienced Orland Park divorce lawyer. Our knowledgeable team can provide the answers you need and help you take the necessary steps in securing your future. Schedule your free consultation with Kezy & Associates today.