Sometimes referred to as alimony, spousal maintenance or spousal support refers to payments which one spouse pays to the other to help them transition to life as a single person. Maintenance payments are generally made by the spouse with the higher income and paid to the spouse with the lower income.
The purpose of spousal support is to restrict any one-sided negative financial effects of a divorce by providing an ongoing source of revenue to a spouse who earns less than his or her partner. The rationale behind spousal support is that one spouse—often the wife, but stay-at-home husbands are more common than ever—may have chosen to sacrifice a career to care for the family. Someone who has been out of the workforce and suddenly gets divorced will need time to acquire new skills and employment support himself or herself. Maintenance may also be appropriate to help an economically-disadvantaged spouse maintain a similar standard of living as compared to the one established in the marriage.
Who Pays Spousal Support?
The short answer to, “Will I have to pay spousal support?” is “It depends.” The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act contains the spousal support statutes on which such decisions are based. However, courts have leeway when deciding who gets spousal support and how much it will be. This is much different than child support payments, which are calculated by a more ridged set of parameters in Illinois. When deciding whether a spouse will receive support, the courts consider a number of factors, including:
- The length of the marriage;
- The standard of living established in the marriage;
- The physical condition of each spouse including their ages, health, and disabilities;
- The emotional and mental state of each spouse;
- The length of time that the recipient of support would reasonably need to become financially self-sufficient;
- Contributions made by either spouse to the career and earning capacity of the other; and
- The ability of the paying spouse to make maintenance payments.
Spousal maintenance is generally meant to be rehabilitative in nature. Many support orders are temporary, lasting until the recipient spouse can get on his or her feet financially. Sometimes, the divorce decree does not specify a spousal support termination date. If this is the case, payments must continue until the court orders them to cease. A payer spouse is not required to pay spousal support to a spouse who remarries.
We Can Help
If you getting divorced and are worried about how spousal maintenance payments will affect your life, the dedicated Wheaton family law attorneys at the Andrew Cores Family Law Group are here to help. To set up a free, confidential consultation, call 630-871-1002 today.