Alimony, formally known as spousal maintenance in Illinois, is sometimes ordered by a judge when two people get divorced. Spousal maintenance refers to payments one spouse will make to another, and it can be one of the most contentious issues in divorce cases. However, it is also one of the most misunderstood. If you are going through a divorce and want to seek spousal maintenance, or defend against claims for it, it is important to understand the truth behind some of the myths surrounding it.
Myth: Spousal Maintenance is Permanent
Spousal maintenance is meant to help one party get back on their feet after a divorce, and as such, it is usually ordered for a fixed time period rather than indefinitely. Maintenance can also end when the recipient remarries or starts living with a new partner, or after a petition for modification once the recipient is able to support themself. In some cases, spousal maintenance may be awarded only temporarily during the divorce proceedings, and payments will stop once the case is final.
Myth: Spousal Maintenance Orders are Final
It is true that spousal maintenance orders are legally binding. However, that does not mean the terms are always set in stone. When a spouse experiences a significant change in circumstances, one of the parties can petition the court to modify the original order. For example, if the individual paying maintenance loses their job and can no longer afford to make these payments, they can ask the court to modify the order to reflect that change.
Myth: Spousal Maintenance is Awarded in Every Divorce Case
While spousal maintenance is fairly common today, it was once much more so. This has led many people to believe that spousal maintenance is always awarded in divorce cases when that is not true. Today, it is more common for both spouses to be established in their careers before they get a divorce. In these cases, it is unlikely that either spouse would be ordered to pay maintenance.
Myth: Maintenance Payments are Tax Deductible
This myth is a bit trickier because it was once true. In Illinois, prior to January 1, 2019, the paying spouse could deduct maintenance payments from their taxes, and payments were considered taxable income for the recipient. This is still true for couples who finalized their divorce prior to this date. However, payers can no longer deduct the amount of maintenance paid, and received payments are no longer subject to income taxes.
Myth: You Can Only Receive Maintenance if You Filed First
A judge will take many factors into consideration when making decisions on spousal maintenance, including each spouse’s financial resources and needs. However, one factor that the judge will not consider is which party filed for divorce first. Either spouse can still seek maintenance during the divorce process, but there is never a guarantee that a judge will award it.
Contact a Wheaton, IL Spousal Maintenance Lawyer
When going through a divorce, you should work with a skilled DuPage County divorce attorney who can help with all aspects of the case, including maintenance. Contact our knowledgeable attorneys at Andrew Cores Family Law Group at 630-871-1002 to schedule a free consultation and to learn more about how we can help.