How do I know If I have a “maintenance case” in my divorce?

Wedding ringsMaintenance (previously called “alimony”) is spousal support paid from one spouse to another spouse during the pendency of a divorce, and/or after a divorce.  There are many different types of maintenance, including maintenance that is taxable to the recipient, as well as non-taxable options.  Determining whether or not you have a “maintenance case” is dependent highly upon the factors set forth in 750 ILCS 5/504 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.  There is no set formula for calculating maintenance and thus it is also discretionary.  It depends upon the circumstances of your case as well as your Judge.  Some counties in Illinois stick to a formula for calculating maintenance (Cook county is not typically one of them) and it is anticipated that there will be more straightforward guidelines for maintenance in the state of Illinois in the near future.

For now, here are some of the factors that a Court may consider when determining whether or not to award maintenance in any given case: (a) the length of the marriage; (b) the ages of the parties; (c) the income history of the parties; (d) the education level of the parties; (e) the lifestyle the parties grew accustomed to during the marriage; (f) property within the marital estate and who said property will be awarded to; (g) the ability of the parties to support themselves.  Usually, the more disproportionate the parties incomes are, the more likely you have a “maintenance case”.  However, the ages of the parties is important, as well as the length of the marriage.  A marriage that lasted five months typically won’t award maintenance.  There is hardly an “income history” for the parties during the marriage.  Although it is possible that one party may have become “accustomed” to a marital lifestyle within five months of marriage, it isn’t likely.  Typically, the shorter the marriage, the less likely there will be any award of maintenance, and if there is, it won’t be a lengthy maintenance award.

Rehabilitative maintenance is much more common.  This maintenance is paid to a party to “rehabilitate” them, so that they can do whatever they need to do to become self-supporting.  Usually in a shorter marriage maintenance will be paid of this nature.  The party receiving maintenance may finish a degree, obtain a certification or establish employment during the time period that they are receiving maintenance so that they can support themselves.

If you believe you may be on the paying or receiving end of a “maintenance case” and need assistance, please schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.

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