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dupage county divorce laywerGetting a divorce does not always mean you will receive spousal support from your spouse afterward. If the couple does not have a valid prenuptial agreement dictating maintenance and cannot agree to a spousal maintenance arrangement, out of court, spousal maintenance decisions will be left up to a judge. The court uses a variety of factors to determine whether or not a maintenance award is appropriate. These factors include things such as each spouse’s age, health, occupation, income, earning potential, and any impairment to their employability or earning potential. Fighting for a maintenance payment can be a battle in itself. However, many divorcing spouses who depend on that support are also concerned with how long the payments will last.

Length of Spousal Maintenance

In many cases, spousal maintenance does not last forever. In fact, courts have moved away from spousal maintenance payments being the norm. In many cases these days, both spouses are employed and have income when they divorce, decreasing or eliminating the need for spousal support. However, if spousal support is deemed necessary and is awarded to the spouse, then the court will follow guidelines set out in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). Illinois law states that the length of spousal maintenance payments is calculated by multiplying the length of the marriage in years by a specific factor. However, if the marriage lasted for 20 or more years, the court can decide to award maintenance indefinitely. For example, if a couple was married for 14 and a half years, the court would multiply 14.5 by .60 to come up with 8.7. This means that the couple in this example would be paying and receiving support for a little more than 8 and a half years. Maintenance automatically terminates when the recipient remarries. 

Discuss Your Case With a DuPage County Spousal Maintenance Attorney

For many couples, spousal maintenance can be a contested issue. If you and your spouse do not agree on the topic of spousal maintenance during your divorce, you should seek help from a skilled Wheaton, IL spousal maintenance lawyer to discuss your options. To schedule a free consultation with a knowledgeable attorney from the Andrew Cores Family Law Group, call our office today at 630-871-1002.

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Wheaton IL family law attorneyAlimony, 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.

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Wheaton spousal maintenance attorneyThose who are facing a divorce generally have many questions about both the process and what the future will look like after the divorce is finalized. One of the more common concerns is whether alimony is going to be a part of the divorce decree. In many situations, alimony—known as “maintenance” in Illinois—becomes a point of contention between the spouses. If a divorce is looking to be increasingly likely for you and your spouse, it is important to understand some basic things about spousal support in Illinois and when such support is awarded.

How Is Spousal Maintenance Used?

Spousal maintenance is intended to reduce the negative effects of a divorce on the lower-earning or otherwise financially disadvantaged party. Several decades ago, spousal support was a fairly standard part of many divorce cases. This was because most households typically relied on one spouse’s income—most often the husband—while the other partner—the wife, usually—worked significantly less or not at all. The spouse who worked less often focused on household and child-related responsibilities. When a couple in such a situation got a divorce, it was almost impossible for the spouse who earned less to support herself, particularly if she was awarded primary custody of the children. Therefore, it was common for a divorce decree to include an order for alimony to be paid by the higher-earning spouse, at least until the lower-earning spouse could support herself.

Spousal Support is Not Guaranteed

Today’s version of the typical marriage—if there is such a thing—looks much different than it did 50 years ago or even just 20 years ago. In many households, both spouses work full-time, either out of necessity or because both partners are invested in their careers. As a result, both spouses are often sufficiently equipped to support themselves in the event of a divorce. In recognition of changing social norms, Illinois law currently holds that there is no presumption that maintenance will be ordered in any divorce case. Instead, the court may order such support if the judge finds that maintenance is appropriate and there is no agreement in place between the spouses on the issue.

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DuPage County child support attorneyWhile it might be easy to assume that fathers usually end up being the ones paying child support after divorce, the truth these days is much more complicated than that. Although prior views of fathers being the primary breadwinners and mothers being the primary caregivers in the family dynamic were true for many years, this has become less and less common in this day and age. A look at the latest information proves that the times are certainly changing—as are the trends in child support and spousal support.

Latest Developments in Child and Spousal Support Defy Stereotypes

In 1979, the Supreme Court ruled that all alimony must be viewed as gender-neutral. This opened the door to men not always having to be the ones who are financially responsible for spousal maintenance payments after divorce. Since then, the latest developments in child support and spousal support payments alike have progressed in a way that defies stereotypes. For example:

  • The latest trends suggest that more and more women are paying some sort of support to men after divorce. Whether it is child support or spousal maintenance—or both—there has been an uptick in women paying money to their ex-husbands, as reported by many divorce attorneys over the last few years. This is representative of an overall shift in the economy, as not only are both men and women working full time despite being married and having kids, but in some cases, women are even becoming the primary breadwinners. In fact, Pew Research has found that mothers are the primary income earners in four out of 10 families in the United States.
  • As more women pay child support or spousal maintenance, more data is coming in to suggest that men are more likely to fulfill their financial obligations after divorces than women. Within the last decade, some data suggests that while about a quarter of all men failed to make their child support payments, close to 10% more women failed to make those same payments. In other words, the common stereotype of “deadbeat dads” is not always the case.

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Wheaton spousal maintenance lawyerOn January 1, 2019, a provision of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 went into effect that will impact divorce cases going forward. This law eliminated the tax deduction for spousal support in divorces finalized on or after that date. The effects of this change to the law are still being felt, and many long-term results have yet to be seen. In many cases, it has required people on both sides of a divorce involving spousal maintenance to be more savvy and resourceful when it comes to reaching a settlement.

How Has the New Law Affected Taxes on Spousal Maintenance?

For many years, maintenance (which is also referred to as spousal support or alimony) was taxed as follows:

  • The spouse paying maintenance would be able to deduct the amount of support payments from his or her taxable income.
  • The spouse receiving maintenance would pay income taxes on the support payments.

Under the new law, there is no tax deduction for the payor of spousal support and no tax on these payments for the recipient. However, this change only applies to divorces that were completed after December 31, 2018. For divorces finalized on or before that date, spousal maintenance will continue to be taxed as it had been previously. In other words, the new law taxes spousal support payments in divorces completed in 2019 or later the same as child support payments.

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