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Chicago Divorce Lawyer > Blog > Divorce > Spousal Support In Chicago Divorces – Do I Have To Pay Maintenance?

Spousal Support In Chicago Divorces – Do I Have To Pay Maintenance?


Aside from child support, spousal support is one of the most common topics that arise when people contemplate potentially filing for a divorce. One spouse may have been the breadwinner during the marriage while the other went to school or raised children, or perhaps both spouses were employed during the marriage, but one spouse worked more and had a higher income than the other. In such cases, one spouse may be required to pay spousal support to the other spouse.

Spousal support is legally recognized in Illinois under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. Under the Act, spousal support is referred to as “maintenance”. Many people still call “maintenance” or spousal support in Illinois “alimony”, although that may be a bit of a misnomer. Either way, Illinois divorce laws, along with other states, establish that maintenance may be awarded to a spouse in the course of divorce proceedings. The primary purpose of maintenance payments is to ensure that one spouse does not become financially destitute as a result of the marriage.

Factors Illinois Courts Consider in Awarding Maintenance

Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, a court must determine many different factors in making the decision to award or not to award spousal maintenance in a dissolution proceeding. Some of those factors include, but are not limited to:

  • The income and property that each spouse possesses, and any financial obligations that each spouse may have as a consequence of the divorce;
  • The needs of each spouse;
  • The earnings capacity of each spouse;
  • Any impairment of the spouse seeking maintenance payments to employment as a result of forgoing education, job experience, or training due to being in the marriage;
  • The standard of living that the spouse was accustomed to during the marriage;
  • How long the marriage lasted; and
  • Any agreements made by the parties regarding maintenance;

In addition, an Illinois court must also consider any other factors that are “just and equitable” in determining whether to award spousal maintenance/alimony, which means that a court will look at other factors that may necessitate financial maintenance to a spouse in the interest of fairness and to prevent financial destitution as a result of the dissolution of marriage.

Contact Us Today for Help

Maintenance is often a highly contentious issue in the course of dissolution proceedings. The reality is that especially in a high-conflict situation, the thought of paying money to the other party to the divorce can be frustrating and maddening. On the other hand, if one spouse had to forgo employment in lieu of other marital responsibilities or in support of the other spouse or the family, alimony can be an essential element to fight for in a divorce. In these situations, it’s especially important to have an experienced Chicago divorce lawyer on your side to help you understand your rights and obligations with regard to support. Contact the experienced Chicago divorce lawyers at Birnbaum, Gelfman, Sharma & Arnoux today to learn your rights and to see if we can help.

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