In most marriages, one spouse earns more than another. Unfortunately, a significant income disparity between spouses can cause extreme hardship upon divorce. For instance, if you have always earned less than your husband or wife, or if you have not worked because you devoted yourself to the family, then you may be left in financial trouble or living well below your accustomed lifestyle after a divorce. You may already be keenly aware of the difference between living on both of your incomes versus living on yours alone if you are separated. In this situation, you need spousal maintenance to be able to maintain your lifestyle – or simply make ends meet – after the divorce. However, maintenance is not guaranteed. To learn more about obtaining spousal support after a divorce, contact the Wheaton divorce lawyers of Fay, Farrow & Associates.
Illinois Spousal Maintenance Law
You may need to formally request spousal maintenance during your divorce proceedings. The first step to obtaining maintenance is convincing the judge that it is appropriate. Under Illinois law 750 ILCS 5/504(a), the judge will review at least 13 factors, including your current occupation and incomes, your ability to earn more in the future, and your needs.
Demonstrating Your Need for Spousal Support
Simply telling the court you need maintenance is not enough. Judges take this request seriously and want convincing arguments and documentation supporting why you need financial assistance from your spouse now and in the future. Some factors that increase your likelihood of obtaining spousal maintenance include:
- The length of your marriage: It is a bit of a generalization, but longer marriages tend to lead to spousal maintenance more than brief marriages. This may be because in longer marriages, one spouse depended on the other individual’s income more or for a longer period of time. Additionally, during a decades-long marriage, one spouse is more likely to have put his or her education or career on hold to take care of children and the household. That spouse leaves the marriage with a greater handicap in earning potential.
- The differences in your incomes: Sometimes spouses each earn plenty to live on. However, in some circumstances, one spouse earns a great deal less than the other. The greater the disparity between incomes, the more likely maintenance is needed.
- Your lesser earning potential: A judge will not only look at what you both earn now, but how much you are capable of earning in the future. If you are likely to earn far less than your spouse or what you need to maintain your lifestyle, even if you were to go back to school or receive occupational training, then you have a stronger argument in support of maintenance.
- Your and your children’s accustomed lifestyle: The lifestyle you and your spouse enjoyed during your marriage can affect whether spousal maintenance is awarded. If you and your spouse lived a lifestyle based on a high income and your own income would not allow you to live in a similar way after a divorce, you can argue that support is necessary. This argument can also be more convincing if children are involved and their lives would dramatically change.
- Your educational and career sacrifices for your family: It is common for one spouse to leave a marriage with a lower income and reduced earning potential because he or she did not attend higher education or continue a career in order to stay home and take care of the children. If you chose to do this during your marriage, you should not be punished. Instead, if you can show that your devotion to the family is why you have and will continue to have a lower income, you may be able to demonstrate your need for maintenance.
Contact a Wheaton Divorce Lawyer Today
While many of the factors laid out in the law appear objective, a skilled attorney can provide arguments and documentation that support your request for maintenance. By working with a Wheaton divorce lawyer from Fay, Farrow & Associates, you have an experienced litigator who knows which arguments are most likely to sway a judge and the evidence necessary to support them.