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spousal maintenance, Joliet family law attorneyIn the original stage version of The Odd Couple, Oscar Madison's alimony obligation is used to provide character background and to solidify the notion that he was divorced. While Neil Simon's play about vastly different roommates is now more than 50 years old, many people still assume that alimony, currently called spousal maintenance under Illinois law, is virtually an automatic part of the divorce process. In today's world, however, such an assumption is no longer true.

The Purpose of Spousal Maintenance

The original concept of maintenance is a product of a previous era in which men were the primary wage-earners in their families and women, by and large, stayed home to manage the house and children. There were always exceptions, to be sure, but the social expectations were very real. Thus, if and when a divorce was necessary, the wife would often be left without a way to support herself. In such cases, alimony was usually found to be appropriate to help keep the woman—and often the couple's children—afloat financially. There were enough such situations that alimony quickly became almost an expectation following a divorce.

Need-Based Maintenance Awards

Under current Illinois law, spousal maintenance is not presumed to be appropriate in every situation. Family situations today look much different than they did in previous generations, with spouses contributing to household finances more equitably than ever before, and other responsibilities shared more evenly. This also means that there no real way to create a legal standard that would apply to all of the various possible scenarios.

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides that spousal maintenance is to be considered on a case-by-case basis, assuming there is no valid agreement regarding maintenance between the parties. Maintenance will only be awarded if the court determines there is a need for such support, based on a number of factors including, but not limited to:

  • The income and needs of each spouse;
  • The portion of the marital estate being allocated to each spouse;
  • Each spouse's age, health, and employability;
  • The ability of the spouse seeking maintenance to become self-sufficient;
  • The contributions of each spouse to the other's career or income potential; and
  • The length of the marriage and the standard of living established.

When maintenance is appropriate, there is a formula in the law to be used in most cases. The court retains the discretion to deviate from the statutory formula depending on the circumstances of the marriage and divorce.

We Can Help

If you are considering a divorce and have questions about receiving spousal maintenance, contact an experienced Joliet family law attorney. At the Law Offices of Tedone and Morton, P.C., we will help you understand your options and responsibilities under the law. Schedule your free initial consultation today.

Source:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=075000050HPt%2E+V&ActID=2086&ChapterID=0&SeqStart=6100000&SeqEnd=8350000

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