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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_150954545.jpgFinances are one of the main reasons that people choose to stay in marriages that are no longer healthy, sustainable, or enjoyable. A major concern of low-income or no-income partners, in particular, is how they would financially support themselves if they divorced their income-earning spouses. 

While spousal support is not a promise in every divorce case, it is possible that maintenance may be part of the final divorce decree. The best way to find out if you are eligible for spousal support during an Illinois divorce is to contact a local divorce attorney. 

What Exactly is Maintenance in Illinois? 

You may have heard of the term alimony before. However, in the state of Illinois, the law does not refer to anything by the name of alimony. Instead, Illinois law uses the term spousal maintenance to refer to financial support a spouse pays to the other spouse. 

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Crystal Lake spousal support attorneyDivorcing couples usually have a number of questions and concerns about spousal support—also known as alimony or maintenance—when they begin to address financial arrangements at the end of their marriage. One of the most pressing questions for most spouses is whether or not they are eligible for maintenance at all, and if so, how that decision is reached.

Determining the Need for Maintenance

It is understandable to want to know how much you must pay your spouse or how much you are eligible to receive, but the answers to these questions are not cut and dry. The court handles spousal maintenance on a case-by-case basis, taking a number of factors into consideration to first determine whether or not alimony is appropriate. Illinois law requires the court to consider all of the following factors before deciding to grant an alimony award to either spouse:

  • The present needs of each party

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McHenry County divorce lawyerMovies and pop culture would have you believe that spousal support is almost always granted to one spouse—usually the wife—during a divorce. However, this is not always the case. There are many divorce cases in Illinois where maintenance is deemed unnecessary for a variety of reasons. If you are in the process of getting divorced, it is important that you understand the reality surrounding spousal support as it is handled under Illinois law. 

Factors Considered in Awarding Spousal Support in Illinois

Illinois law encourages divorcing spouses to reach their own agreement regarding all of the issues of their divorce, including arrangements for spousal support, whenever possible. If the couple cannot reach an agreement, the matter will be left up to the court to decide.

In order to determine whether support is appropriate or not, a court must consider a list of many different factors. Some of the relevant considerations include:

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When Can You Reduce or Terminate Spousal Maintenance?Spousal maintenance payments are reviewable and modifiable after a divorce unless you expressly say in the agreement that they are nonmodifiable. As the payer, there may come a point when you need to reduce the maintenance payments or terminate them. When are you allowed to modify and when can you eliminate your payments? How would you make this change? Some maintenance agreements have a designated review date, during which the court can decide whether to extend or adjust payments. You can also file a petition for modification of spousal maintenance, in which you must prove that a change in circumstances allows you to reduce or terminate your maintenance payments.

When Can You Reduce Payments?

Modifications to spousal maintenance most often occur because of a change in income for one of the parties. For instance, you may have lost your job or your pay may have been significantly reduced. While you still have some income, you can no longer afford the same maintenance payments while also paying for your living expenses. Another example is if your former spouse gets a new job that increases their income. It is no longer necessary for them to receive the same amount of maintenance because their ability to support themselves has increased. The court will decide whether to grant your modification request based on what it deems to be appropriate for your situation.

When Can You Terminate Payments?

You may be able to stop your spousal maintenance payments altogether if one of the following circumstances applies to your case:

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New Tax Law May Cause Divorce Rush in 2018The recently passed federal tax reform law will do away with the popular alimony tax deduction for all divorces that are completed after Dec. 31, 2018. According to the IRS, about 600,000 people claimed the deduction in their 2015 returns. Spousal maintenance agreements that are created before the end of the year will still be able to claim the deduction in the future. Thus, some couples feel that they are facing a deadline to complete their divorces before the new law goes into effect.

What Changes

With the current tax laws, the person paying spousal maintenance after a divorce can deduct the payments when filing his or her taxes. In turn, the spousal maintenance recipient must report the payments as taxable income. The new tax law makes spousal maintenance payments tax neutral in the same way that child support payments are. The payer will no longer claim the deduction, and the recipient will not pay taxes on it.

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