Your Entitlement to Divorce Maintenance: 4 Factors to Consider

Dec 19, 2012 | Maintenance (Alimony)

If you are considering a divorce, you are most likely aware of your rights to alimony, or “maintenance”, as it is commonly referred to in Illinois. Maintenance consists of an agreement between two divorcing parties ordered by the courts in which one spouse makes consistent monetary payments to the other after the dissolution of marriage. As you proceed with your divorce, it is important to be aware of the factors surrounding maintenance law. The following describes some of the factors the courts will consider in ruling on divorce maintenance.

Length of marriage. As the courts determine how much is owed in maintenance and for how long it will be paid, they will take into consideration how long the two of you were married. While there is typically no definitive rule in Illinois for how the length of the marriage specifically affects alimony payments, there seems to be a general trend governing court decisions on the matter. The longer you are married, the greater your chances of obtaining more significant amounts of maintenance.

Sacrifices made during marriage. During a marriage, it is not uncommon for one spouse to make financial contributions while the other contributes in other ways (i.e. staying home to take care of kids, managing the household, helping to care for elderly parents, etc.). If you agreed to be the stay-at-home parent while your spouse went to work every day, chances are you didn’t have your own pension plan, investment opportunities such as stock options, or other such opportunities. Or maybe you got married and had kids together at a young age without ever having the chance to pursue a college education to prepare you for a career. Whatever the case may be, if you made personal sacrifices during the marriage that benefitted your spouse in any way, the courts will take this into consideration in determining maintenance.

Disabilities suffered during marriage. Those who suffer from a disability that prevented them from working during the marriage will sometimes be awarded permanent maintenance. Contrary to other types of maintenance, under permanent maintenance spousal support is required to be paid to the disabled spouse until one spouse dies. Keep in mind, however, that accepting alimony payments can have an effect on what you may already be receiving in SSI (Social Security Income) or SSD (Social Security Disability). An experienced divorce attorney will be able to assess your situation and interpret the law accordingly as it relates to your eligibility for maintenance as a disabled individual.

Your age upon divorcing. Just as with a physical disability, your age can also play a large role in determining how much maintenance you are owed. Upon divorcing, if your age limits your ability to pursue professional opportunities, you may be entitled to maintenance based on this disadvantage. For example, it would be unrealistic to expect an elderly wife who has been a stay-at-home mom her entire life to go to college and pursue a professional career. Fortunately, the courts take this into consideration in determining maintenance.

If you are considering a divorce and are wondering about your entitlement to divorce maintenance, please call the Law Office of Bradley R. Tengler in Rockford, IL at 815-981-4859 for a free consultation. Please note, the above does not constitute legal advice. Please discuss your specific rights with an attorney in your own jurisdiction.