The goal of any Family Law attorney is to secure a fair and reasonable outcome for his or her client. In a divorce, the Court will divide the property and debt of the parties and determine support. Support may be for the children or it may be for a spouse. Spousal support is now known as Maintenance, formerly referred to as alimony. Maintenance is separate support from that of child support.
In general, Maintenance is used to help close the financial gap between two parties. For example, a married couple decides that one party would stay at home to raise the children and the other party works to support the family. This couple later decides to divorce. The individual who was in the workforce might have a sizable salary and a marketable skill set. The other individual may now have to start his or her career from scratch. It’s reasonable to believe that there may be a period of time in which time the stay-at-home parent may need further education or on-the-job experience in order to adequately support oneself and family. A Maintenance agreement might be considered fair in this case. Unlike child support, there are no clear guidelines utilizing a percentage formula for establishing maintenance. However, Illinois does have factors which must be considered and presented to the court. So, how is Maintenance determined, and what is considered “fair”?
According to the statute, (750 ILCS 5/504), ***“the court may grant a temporary or permanent maintenance award for either spouse in amounts and for periods of time as the court deems just, without regard to marital misconduct, in gross or for fixed or indefinite periods of time, and the maintenance may be paid from the income or property of the other spouse after consideration of all relevant factors, including:
1. The income and property of each party, including marital property apportioned and non- marital property assigned to the party seeking maintenance
2. The needs of each party
3. The present and future earning capacity of each party
4. Any impairment of the present and future earning capacity of the party seeking maintenance due to that party devoting time to domestic duties or having forgone or delayed education, training, employment or career opportunities due to the marriage
5. The time necessary to enable the party seeking maintenance to acquire appropriate education, training, and employment, and whether that party is able to support him or herself through appropriate employment or is the custodian of a child making it appropriate that the custodian not seek employment
6. The standard of living established during the marriage
7. The duration of the marriage
8. The age and the physical and emotional condition of both parties
9. The tax consequences of the property division upon the respective economic circumstances of the parties
10. Contributions and services by the party seeking maintenance to the education, training, career or career potential, or license of the other spouse
11. Any valid agreement of the parties and
12. Any other factor that the court expressly finds to be just and equitable.”***
It is good practice to always consult a Family Law attorney when considering a life change like Divorce. It’s so important to have all things considered if you are a candidate for Maintenance. Determine what is reasonable and fair, and give yourself the best chance for success as you start the next chapter of your life.