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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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DuPage County parenting agreement lawyerThe issue of child custody—officially known as the allocation of parental responsibilities under Illinois law—is often among the most difficult concerns to resolve in a divorce. Parents who have spent years raising their children together may suddenly be arguing over the role that each of them will play in the lives of their children. A dispute over parental responsibilities can quickly become a very stressful and emotional situation for both the parents and the children. In some cases, extended family members are affected as well.

Every case is unique, and parents facing such a dispute should not make any assumptions about the level of responsibility that they will be granted. Instead, they should keep in mind a few important factors that may influence the outcome.

The Importance of Both Fathers and Mothers

In the past, mothers were often the primary caretakers of the children in a marriage, and were therefore commonly awarded primary or full custody of the children in a divorce. Today, things are largely very different. Evolving social norms and the realities of life have led to an increase in families in which both parents work, and more fathers play a prominent role in the day-to-day lives of their children. Such changes are being reflected in court decisions as well, as family court judges tend to lean toward shared parenting arrangements whenever possible.

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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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Posted on in Divorce

DuPage County divorce mediation lawyerWhen you choose to pursue a divorce, your biggest fear may be that the process will become a destructive fight that harms you, your ex, and your children. It is true that some divorces are contentious, and almost all divorces are stressful, but many of them can proceed amicably. 

If you are able to cooperate with your spouse throughout the divorce process, you can often avoid a trial and reach an efficient resolution that satisfies both sides. If you are hoping for an amicable divorce, you should make sure to approach it in a way that prevents conflict from taking over.

How to Keep Your Illinois Divorce Amicable

Your chances of an amicable divorce often rest on the behaviors of both you and your spouse. Here are some things you can do to make an amicable divorce more likely:

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DuPage County gray divorce attorneyWhile the major story with regards to divorce statistics in recent years is the fact that in most age segments, especially the Millennial Generation, divorce rates are on the decline (which should not be that much of a surprise given that marriage rates are also on the decline for this age group). But possibly an even more interesting and multifaceted development is the huge spike in gray divorces, or divorces for those over the age of 50, many of which can be very complex divorces due to the large variety and amounts of assets, properties, and debts amassed through the years. Here are some of the reasons for the increase in gray divorces.

5 Primary Reasons for the Increase in Gray Divorces

Over the last two decades, there have been twice as many gray divorces as there were in the past. This doubling of gray divorce rates suggests a trend. Here are some of the most common reasons that so many people over the age of 50 are getting divorced:

  1. Less Stigma—These older generations have seen a dramatic shift in the way divorce is viewed by both society and religious organizations. Whereas in prior decades, divorce might have branded you as an outcast or someone who did not have the fortitude or fidelity to “make it work” in regards to your marriage. These days, you will probably hear someone say, “Good for them,” upon hearing of a couple’s divorce. That is because overall, everyone is much more accepting of divorce, especially due to the many negative consequences of failing marriages.

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