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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.

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maintenance, Wheaton divorce lawyersIf you are considering divorce in Illinois, you probably have many questions. One of these may be about whether or not you will be required to pay alimony, or spousal maintenance. Spousal maintenance is designed to help financially support a lesser-earning spouse after a divorce. While spousal maintenance is awarded less often now than it was in the past, there is still a possibility you will be required to make spousal maintenance payments. Read on to learn about alimony laws in Illinois, as well as how recent federal tax law changes can affect the amount of alimony spouses pay and receive.

Spousal Support Basics

Spousal maintenance, or spousal support, can often be a contentious issue during a divorce. Courts examine many factors when deciding whether or not a spousal maintenance order is appropriate. When making spousal support decisions, Illinois courts typically consider:

  • Any existing premarital or prenuptial agreements between the parties;
  • The standard of living established during the marriage;
  • How long the marriage lasted;
  • Each party’s property and income including retirement and disability income;
  • The age and health of each party;
  • Each party’s present and future earning capacity;
  • Contributions each party made to the marriage including contributions made as a homemaker or stay-at-home-parent;
  • Contributions that one spouse made to the advancement of the other spouse’s education or career;
  • How long it will take the party requesting support to gain suitable education, training, and employment;
  • Tax consequences of spousal maintenance options; and
  • Other factors that the court believes are fair and pertinent.

How Recent Changes in Tax Law Affect Spousal Support

Previous to the recent passage of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, spousal maintenance payers were able to claim maintenance payments as a deduction on annual tax returns. The spouse receiving alimony was obligated to report maintenance received as taxable income. Now, spousal maintenance payers do not receive a deduction, and maintenance recipients will no longer report payments as taxable income.

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Wheaton alimony attorneysEven though alimony is not awarded as frequently in divorce as it once was, it is still an important (and often contentious) element in some divorce situations. It can ensure a disabled or disadvantaged spouse has at least some financial resources as they attempt to rebuild their life (perhaps by going back to school to start a new career or re-entering their former career field). Alimony can also ensure a family unit is financially stable in the months immediately following a divorce.

Thanks to the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, alimony laws in the United States will undergo some monumental changes in 2019. A provision, which has been in place for more than 70 years now, will be completely eliminated, and it is expected to negatively affect many divorcing couples in the year to come. Learn how you can prepare for the upcoming alimony changes, and discover how our seasoned Wheaton family law attorneys can assist with mitigating against the potential issues in your Illinois divorce.

How the Tax Act is Changing Alimony in 2019

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