Spousal maintenance is often a hotly contested issue during divorce. Many women will seek maintenance simply based on the assumption that they will get it, no matter the facts of the case. Men often head into divorce thinking they will be hit with a significant monthly maintenance payment, even if they believe spousal support is unnecessary. However, the truth is that Illinois divorce law does not automatically assign maintenance. First, it must be requested and then a judge will determine if it is appropriate based on a number of factors.
If you were the spouse earning more money during the marriage and you expect your husband or wife to ask for support, you can rest assured that this is not guaranteed and there are ways to fight unfair spousal maintenance. For more information, call the Wheaton divorce attorneys of Fay, Farrow and Associates, P.C. to schedule a free consultation.
How Spousal Maintenance is Determined
If your husband or wife requests maintenance during a divorce, the judge will look to at least 13 factors when deciding whether maintenance is appropriate in your specific situation. These are:
- the income and property of each party,
- all of your sources of public and private income,
- the needs of each party,
- the parties’ current and future earning capacities,
- any impairment of the current and future earning capacity of the party seeking maintenance because he or she devoted time to domestic duties or forwent or delayed education, training, employment, or career opportunities because of the marriage,
- any impairment of your current or future earning capacity,
- the time necessary to enable the party seeking maintenance to acquire appropriate education, training, and employment,
- whether that party is able to support himself or herself through appropriate employment,
- the standard of living established during the marriage,
- the duration of the marriage,
- the age and health of each of the parties,
- the tax consequences of the property division for each of you,
- contributions and services by the party seeking maintenance to your education, training, career or career potential, or professional license, and
- any valid agreement of the parties like a pre-nuptial agreement.
The judge will be looking to see if there is a significant income disparity and whether that difference was caused by your spouse’s role within the marriage, such as staying home with kids or forgoing additional schooling while you went to school and built your career.
Fighting Against Spousal Maintenance
Every marriage is unique and there may be factors in favor of approving maintenance and denying it. Your attorney will strive to provide a strong argument backed by documentation that maintenance should be denied, or if approved, for a reduced amount or brief duration.
Some facts that may support an argument against spousal support include:
- You were married a brief period of time
- Your spouse has or could have a plentiful income
- Your spouse did not limit his or her educational or career opportunities for the marriage
- No factors of the marriage lowered your spouse’s current or future earning potential
- You and your spouse did not have children or your spouse did not stay home with them
- Your spouse has or will have his or her own property following the divorce
- Your spouse does not have additional needs beyond his or her own income
- Your spouse did not enjoy a standard of living beyond his or her own means during the marriage
There is another strong argument against maintenance and that is if your spouse is already in a serious relationship and cohabitating with someone else. Under Illinois law, the obligation to pay maintenance ends when the person receiving support continuously cohabitates with another person in a relationship similar to marriage. This issue does not necessitate that the individuals are in a sexual relationship, but that they live together permanently in an intimate or romantic partnership.
Call Our Wheaton Divorce Lawyers for Help Today
If you are headed into a divorce and you believe your spouse will ask for maintenance that you do not feel you should have to pay, you will need an experienced lawyer who is ready to tenaciously fight for your rights in court.