In Illinois, maintenance (alimony) issupport one spouse pays to the other after divorce. Generally, maintenance requires a two-part analysis by the court. First, the court must decidewhether maintenance is appropriate under the unique circumstances of the case. If maintenanceis appropriate, then the court determines how much maintenance the spouse receives per month and for how may months maintenance will be paid. This article pertains to the first part of the analysis, that is, deciding whethermaintenance should be paid at all. (Click here for the second part of the analysis).
It is important to understand the purpose of maintenance before analyzing the circumstances under which it is appropriate. Essentially, the purpose of maintenance is to minimize unfair economic effects of divorce by requiring the higher wageearner to provide money to the non-wage earner or lower wage earner spouse. For example, maintenance is widely appropriate in divorces when a spouse was a homemaker during the marriage and passed up a career. Also, maintenance is commonly awarded tomaintain the standard of living attained during the marriage for each spouse after the marriage. (An example of maintenance not being appropriate: Nicholas Cage’s ex-wife’s request for maintenance after a four-day, alcohol-infused, marriage).
Illinoiscourts consider a variety of factors when determining whether maintenance is appropriate. Of import, especially when considering the purpose of maintenance,are factors such as the income of each party, the needs of each party, the realistic present and future earning capacity of each party, and the standard of living establishedduring the marriage. Any pre-nuptial agreement regarding maintenance would, of course, be relevant too.Once the court makes the determination that maintenance is appropriate, then it must move on to step two, that is deciding how much and for how long.
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