Changing Spousal Support Obligations

 Posted on February 06, 2014 in Divorce

Illinois law may require one spouse to pay support to another following a divorce. Of course, the amount that the court requires depends on the parties’ financial circumstances at the time of the divorce. In this uncertain economy, those circumstances are prone to change, meaning that the support obligation may have to change as well. Fortunately, courts allow parties to petition to change their support obligations if they can show some sort of pertinent change in their finances.

spousal support IMAGEHow Judges Calculate Support

To understand what changes would qualify as meaningful, it can help to look at how the law determines a person’s support obligations. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act governs the court’s awarding of spousal support. It instructs judges to examine a variety of factors when making the support determination, including:

  • The income and property of each party;
  • The needs of each party;
  • The present and future earning capacity of each party;
  • Whether one spouse sacrificed or delayed their education, training, employment, or career opportunities due to the marriage, and the amount of time it would take to make up that deficit;
  • The couple’s standard of living;
  • The length of the marriage;
  • The age and physical, mental, or emotional condition of the parties.

The law also allows the court to examine other factors that the judge finds fair or equitable. However, courts do not look to marital misconduct when determining the parties’ support obligations.

Getting the Support Obligation Changed

Many events can happen that would justify petitioning to increase or decrease a support obligation. Serious financial injury to the supporting spouse, such as losing a job or suffering from a sudden, expensive illness, may be cause to petition the court to decrease a support obligation. Conversely, a financial emergency on the side of the supported spouse could result in a temporary increase in the support obligation until the emergency has passed.

There are also some specific circumstances that can result in the complete termination of a support obligation. For instance, if the supported spouse chooses to remarry, then the supporting spouse can petition to end their obligation. However, the supported spouse does not necessarily have to remarry for this to happen. The obligation can also come to an end if they cohabit with someone in an intimate relationship.

Legal Help

If you or your former spouse’s financial circumstances have recently changed in a way that may justify modifying the support obligation, contact a DuPage county divorce attorney today. They can help ensure that the support obligations stemming from your divorce reflect your financial situation.
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