It has many names: alimony, spousal support, or maintenance. The revised Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act refers to it as maintenance. No matter the title, it is essentially payments made by one former spouse to another. There are many reasons why couples agree to maintenance themselves or why the court orders it. However, what was once agreed upon or ordered may become financially difficult for the paying party. If this is the case, he or she needs to return to court to change the amount or duration of the payments. If you have questions regarding modifying maintenance in Illinois, contact the DuPage divorce attorneys of Fay, Farrow & Associates at 630-961-0060. The firm has helped individuals manage their maintenance duties following a divorce for more than 35 years.
Is Your Maintenance Modifiable?
Many spouses agree to maintenance on their own terms when they divorce. They determine how much will be paid and for how long. Payments may be a certain amount for life or only for a certain number of years until the receiving spouse can become self-sufficient. However, the parties can also contractually agree that the maintenance cannot be altered. Illinois law allows spouses to agree to maintenance that is non-modifiable in amount and duration.
If the written agreement does not say that the maintenance cannot be modified, then the paying party can ask for an alteration if there is a substantial change in circumstances. The paying party can also seek a change if the maintenance was determined by the judge.
Many people wonder what it means to go through a substantial change. Factors that indicate a substantial change are laid out in Section 510 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act and include:
- A good faith change in employment of either party
- An increase or decrease in either party’s income since the judgement
- The efforts of the receiving party to become self-supporting
- Impairment in present or future earnings of either party
- Duration of maintenance previously paid and remaining to be paid compared to the length of the marriage
- The tax consequences of the maintenance payments
- The property awarded, including retirement savings, to each party during the divorce
- Property acquired or still owned by each party since the judgement
- Any other factors the court believes to be just and equitable
As you can see from the factors, if you were laid off from your job or earn much less now than you did when the maintenance was ordered, you have a good deal of evidence to prove a substantial change and request that the maintenance be reduced or stopped. Also, if the receiving spouse is now able to financially support him or herself, you may be able to show there is no need for maintenance of this amount or at all.
It is also important to note that the obligation to pay maintenance stops when the receiving spouse remarries or begins cohabitating with someone. Once you learn of the receiving spouse’s change in circumstances, you may need to go back to court to alter the official order.
Ask for a DuPage County Maintenance Attorney’s Help
Before you let interest accrue on unpaid maintenance, speak with the attorneys at Fay, Farrow & Associates about how you can change your financial obligation. If you and your spouse privately settled your divorce, you may be able to work with each other along with your attorneys to modify the payments. If this is not possible, your lawyer will help you return to court to demonstrate to a judge the need for a modification.