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Spousal Support

 

Maintenance, formerly known as alimony, is experiencing a resurgence in Illinois. The court will consider several factors in determining whether an award of maintenance is appropriate. These factors include, among others, the present and future earning capacity of each party, duration of marriage, standard of living established during the marriage, contributions and services by the party seeking maintenance to the education and/or career advancements of the other party and the needs of each party.

Maintenance may be awarded on temporary or permanent basis. In some cases, maintenance will be awarded for a set period of time (e.g. five years) in order to give the recipient spouse an opportunity to establish a degree of self-sufficiency. This type of maintenance is called rehabilitative maintenance. In other cases, a specified amount of maintenance is awarded in a single lump sum payment. This is called maintenance in gross. When the court deems it appropriate, rehabilitative maintenance may be set for a specified period of time to be reviewed at a time as determined by the court. This is called reviewable maintenance. The type of maintenance awarded to a party depends on various factors including the purpose for which maintenance is awarded.

Permanent (or indefinite) maintenance is for the payee’s life, but is usually subject to termination upon the happening of certain events. The death of either the paying or recipient party, the remarriage of the recipient party or if the recipient party cohabits with another person on a resident, continuing conjugal basis.

An award of maintenance may be modified or terminated only upon a showing of substantial change in circumstances. In Illinois, the court will consider the following factors including change in the employment status of either party and whether the change has been made in good faith, the efforts, if any, made by the party receiving maintenance to become self-supporting, and the reasonableness of the efforts where they are appropriate and any impairment of the present and future earning capacity of either party.

In some cases, the issue of maintenance will be reserved for future review. For example, if one party is in need of maintenance but the other party is unable to pay maintenance at the time judgment of dissolution of marriage is entered. Maintenance may also be reserved for future review if the party is not in need of maintenance at the time of judgment, but may require maintenance in the future. If maintenance is not awarded or reserved at the time that judgment of dissolution of marriage is entered, it is deemed waive and a party is forever barred from coming back into court to request maintenance.

In terms of tax consequences, maintenance is considered income for the recipient party and therefore must be included in calculation of gross income. The paying party may deduct maintenance amounts paid on his/her taxes.

If you have questions regarding spousal support or wish to discuss your particular case, please feel free to call The Law Office of Catherine M. Byrne at 312-637-5356.

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