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Can Illinois Spousal Support End if the Paying Party Is Unemployed?

 Posted on February 05, 2021 in Spousal Maintenance

IL divorce lawyerAlthough there is light at the end of the tunnel with a vaccine for coronavirus being administered now, the economic impact may be felt for some time. Many non-essential businesses such as bars, restaurants, casinos, fitness centers, and salons were closed to stop the spread of COVID-19. As a result, workers across the country, including Illinois, had to file for unemployment for the first time in their lives. The financial impact of this can be especially difficult for a divorced person.

In some cases, an individual may either pay spousal maintenance (alimony) or receive it as determined in the divorce decree. Spousal support refers to the legal obligation to provide financial support to an ex-spouse in a legal separation or divorce. The purpose of this maintenance is to help the ex-spouse eventually become self-supporting. However, if either spouse loses his or her job, it is important to understand how this unemployment can impact the support payments moving forward.

Spousal Maintenance 101

According to Illinois divorce law, spousal maintenance is intended to help the supported spouse maintain a similar financial situation as he or she had during the marriage. It is often awarded to the lesser-earning spouse or one who did not work outside of the home. Before this type of financial support is awarded, the court will review certain factors, including each spouse’s income, if child support will be paid, and whether one spouse needs financial assistance. A judge can order maintenance for a short or indefinite period with a periodic review depending on the details of the marriage and divorce. For example, if a couple was married a long time and one person has medical issues that prevent them from working, the support may be permanent.

There are certain scenarios that automatically terminate spousal maintenance, such as the death of either spouse or if the recipient remarries or cohabitates with another person in a conjugal relationship. However, it is possible to modify a spousal support order due to a substantial change in circumstances, which can take the form of financial or health crises. Millions of people have lost their jobs or taken lower-paying jobs because of the COVID-19 shutdowns. They may be attempting to make their spousal support payments but end up falling behind or late.

In addition, a person may have been off work after contracting coronavirus and being hospitalized, resulting in expensive medical bills. The individual requesting a modification must show proof of lost wages, such as pay stubs or unemployment documents. Additionally, the job loss or change must have been involuntary. A spousal support order may be changed for a temporary period of time in such situations. Former spouses and the court can renegotiate the terms of the divorce agreement so that the maintenance payments are more manageable.

Contact a DuPage County Divorce Attorney

In many divorce cases, spousal maintenance is essential for one party to move on with his or her life. However, job changes or losses due to COVID-19 may have affected the paying party’s ability to keep up with payments. If you are concerned or have questions about spousal support orders, consult a qualified Wheaton, IL family lawyer as soon as possible. The accomplished legal team at Stock, Carlson & Duff, LLC has more than 40 years of experience in all family law matters, including the complex issues that often accompany a divorce. Call our office today at 630-665-2500 to schedule a confidential consultation.


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