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When is a spouse entitled to maintenance in Illinois?

In divorce, it is critical to work with an experienced attorney who can help ensure a fair settlement is reached with respect to assets and debts. Property division in Illinois, is governed by the principle of equitable distribution, and state law requires courts to come to ensure that property and debts are divided in a manner that is “just and equitable.”

Just and equitable division of assets and debts is not the only financial area where a spouse may need advocacy, though. In some cases, a spouse may need advocacy with respect to spousal maintenance. In fact, spousal maintenance is very much related to property division since spousal support may be paid not only from the income of the other spouse, but also from the other spouse’s property. 

First of all, it is important to note that eligibility for spousal maintenance is not based on fault. Courts will not award maintenance because of abuse or adultery or addiction, or on other fault-based grounds. Rather, the court awards maintenance when it deems it is just to do so. There are a variety of factors the court considers in weighing whether spousal maintenance is appropriate. Some of the factors are listed below:

  • The income and property of each party;
  • The needs of each party;
  • The present and future earning capacity of each party;
  • Contributions to the marriage and household which impair a spouse’s earning capacity;
  • Impairments on the ability to pay maintenance;
  • The duration of the marriage;
  • The standard of living established during the marriage;
  • Any valid agreement of the parties.

In our next post, we’ll continue this discussion, looking at how courts determine the amount and duration of spousal maintenance awards and why it is important to work with an experienced attorney in seeking spousal maintenance. 

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