When Is a Spouse Eligible for Spousal Support in an Illinois Divorce?
When a married couple splits up, they will often need to make significant changes to the ways they handle financial issues. A couple that had combined their finances, deposited income into joint accounts, and worked together to pay bills and other expenses will need to separate their finances and determine how they will each be able to pay various costs on their own. While this process can be complicated and difficult, spouses will usually be able to make adjustments to ensure that they will each be able to live comfortably on a single income. However, there are some situations where one spouse may be unable to fully support themselves after their divorce, such as when a stay-at-home parent did not work outside the home during their marriage. In these situations, one spouse may believe that they should receive spousal support from the other. By understanding when a spouse may qualify for this form of support, a couple can ensure that this issue will be handled correctly during the divorce process.
Factors Considered in Decisions About Spousal Maintenance
Spousal support is known as spousal maintenance in Illinois, although it is often referred to as alimony. It is important to understand that even if the need for support seems obvious (such as when one party relies primarily or solely on the other party’s income to meet the family’s needs), maintenance will not be awarded automatically. A spouse who believes they need financial support will need to request it, and they must demonstrate that this support is necessary to meet their ongoing needs and maintain the lifestyle they were used to while they were married.
Illinois law details a number of factors that may play a role in determining whether a spouse is eligible to receive spousal maintenance, although a judge may consider any issues that may affect the parties’ ability to reach a fair and equitable outcome for their divorce. The specific factors that a judge should consider include:
Income and property - The income each spouse currently earns will be a primary issue, since this may determine the financial resources available to each of them. If one spouse’s income is much larger than the other’s, the lower-earning spouse may be able to receive support to ensure that they will be able to meet their needs. However, the judge may also consider each party’s income-earning capacity based on their education and previous work experience to determine whether the lower-earning spouse should be able to support themselves. Other financial resources available to each party may also be considered, including the marital property that has been allocated to them and the separate property they will continue to own.
Needs - Each party’s realistic financial needs may be considered to determine the amount that will be required to maintain their accustomed lifestyle.
Impairments to earning capacity - If a spouse’s ability to earn sufficient income will be affected by other decisions made during their divorce, this may be addressed when determining eligibility for spousal maintenance. For example, if a parent will have primary custody of the couple’s children, requiring them to provide childcare during the day, this may affect their ability to work outside the home, and they may need financial support to cover their living expenses.
Education and training - If a spouse currently earns little or no income, they may be planning to re-enter the workforce in the future. To ensure that they will be able to earn enough to support themselves, they may pursue education or certain types of training. In these cases, the time they and expense required for a person to be able to support themselves may be considered when determining whether they should receive support from their former partner.
Contributions to the other party - In many cases, a spouse who earns a higher income is able to do so because of support they received from their spouse. For example, one spouse may have helped the other pay educational expenses, or they may have handled the majority of household responsibilities to ensure that the other spouse could focus on their career. These contributions may be considered when determining whether the higher-earning spouse will be required to provide their ex-spouse with financial support.
Age, health, etc. - There are a variety of issues that may affect the unique circumstances of each party, and these factors may need to be considered when addressing spousal support. For example, a judge may look at whether a spouse can be expected to become self-supporting based on how old they are, how illnesses or disabilities affect their ability to work, and whether they have any debts that they will be required to pay on an ongoing basis.
Contact Our Oakbrook Terrace Spousal Maintenance Attorneys
If you are seeking spousal support during your divorce, or if you are being asked to pay alimony, you will need to make sure all factors that affect your situation are considered correctly. Farooqi & Husain Law Office can help you understand how Illinois law applies in your situation, and we will advocate for solutions that will protect your financial interests going forward. Contact our DuPage County spousal support lawyers at 630-909-9114 to get the legal help and representation you need during your divorce.