Maintenance

Maintenance awards are guided under 750 ILCS 5/504 and can be awarded temporary, permanent, rehabilitative, reviewable, in gross and unallocated. The three most common forms of maintenance awarded by Illinois court pursuant to §504 are permanent maintenance, rehabilitative maintenance, and reviewable maintenance.

In In re Marriage of Kerber, 215 Ill. App. 3d 248, 158 Ill. Dec. 717, 574 N.E.2s 830 (4th Dist. 1991).  The Kerber court rejected the trial court’s award of rehabilitative maintenance for one year and ordered permanent maintenance, based on the long duration of the marriage, the fact that the wife had been a homemaker during the marriage and lacked skills and experience to obtain employment by which she could support herself, the wife’s bad health, and the husband’s employment which made him sufficiently able to pay maintenance.

There were also similar circumstances in a case that I recently read.  The parties had been married for thirty-three (33) years and the husband was required to pay $3,300 in permanent maintenance despite him retiring.  The ex-husbands Motion to Modify (Terminate) Maintenance did not allege any change in the ex-wife’s circumstances or financial position to justify a modification of termination of support. Therefore, Judge Charles D. Johnson found that the ex-husband was still capable of paying this amount, despite him retiring and Ordered him to continue to pay as he was able to and there had been no change in circumstances in the wife’s ability to support herself. (Divorce Digest Volume 6, Issue 3, May, 2015)

Rehabilitative maintenance is paid for a fixed period, after which it terminates, thereby presumably allowing the recipient time to become “rehabilitated” and able to support him/herself.  In re Marriage of Phillips, 244 Ill. App. 3d 577, 186 Ill. Dec. 108, 615 N.E.2d 1165 (4th Dist. 1993) is an example of rehabilitative maintenance award: “affirming rehabilitative maintenance award of $235 per month for three years; wife was homemaker during marriage, and her current job as a CPA could not support the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage.”

Reviewable maintenance is also paid for a specified period of time, but the court reserves jurisdiction to determine whether the maintenance should continue.  The decision to then continue or terminate the maintenance is based upon a review of the parties’ resources and the recipient’s success in achieving financial independence.  In re Marriage of Haas, 215 Ill. App. 3d 959, 158 Ill. Dec. 983, 574 N.E.2d 1376 (3d Dist. 1991) is an example of such.  The Court upheld an award of $600 per month maintenance reviewable at the end of 18 months; wife had been employed during marriage and had potential to become self-sufficient.

In another case I read, the former wife sought an extension of maintenance while the ex-husband sought termination.  Judge Mark L. Lopez required the ex-husband to continue to pay $12,000 as unallocated maintenance finding good cause for the ex-wife’s inability to achieve full or partial independence. In considering all of the statutory factors as required on a review of maintenance, the Judge rejected the ex-husband’s argument that the unallocated support should terminate due to the ex-wife’s failure to make a good faith effort to become employed or obtain additional training to reach the job market.  He rejected the ex-husband’s argument that the court impute any income toward the ex-wife for what she might have earned had she made employment a higher priority.  At the time of trial, she still had two minor children at home.  Judge Lopez found good cause for her inability to achieve full or partial financial independence.  She continued to care for two minor children. (Divorce Digest Volume 6, Issue 3, May, 2015)

The purpose of maintenance, whether permanent, rehabilitative or reviewable is to put the parties in a similar position to what they would have been in if the divorce had not occurred.  Or as the case states above, “the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage.” The Court will thoroughly review both parties financials before making this determination if an agreed upon Order does not occur prior.  Maintenance or support should not be deemed as a punishment, but as a way to set both parties on an equal platform as the marriage dissolves or as they would have been if the divorce had not occurred.

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