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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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If you are getting divorced, you may wonder whether or not you will be able to receive spousal maintenance. Also called spousal support or alimony, spousal maintenance refers to payments that a spouse makes to the other spouse after a divorce. Although women were traditionally the recipients of maintenance, spousal support laws apply the same to men as they do women. Spousal maintenance is typically ordered when there is a significant difference in the spouses’ financial circumstances or when a spouse sacrifices career or educational opportunities for the benefit of the household.

Factors Considered by Illinois Courts When Determining Spousal Support

There are two ways that a spouse may be considered eligible for spousal support. The first is when the couple have already made spousal support decisions through a prenuptial agreement. Unless there is a problem that invalidates the prenuptial agreement, the court will uphold the arrangements to which the spouses agreed.

The second way a spouse can receive spousal support is by petitioning the court for spousal support. Courts consider a range of factors when deciding whether or not spousal support is appropriate. These factors include but are not limited to:

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While the divorce rate seems to have stabilized in recent years, and may even, in fact, be falling, nearly one million American marriages are legally dissolved each year. Many individuals, however, are unwilling to give up entirely on the idea of marital happiness. According to a study conducted the Pew Research Center, fully 40 percent of all new marriages include at least one partner who has been previously married. Two in ten are marriages between partners who have both been married before. The study also indicated that nearly 60 percent of all divorced or widowed adults will remarry.

These statistics, it would seem, paint a rather optimistic picture of the American approach to marriage, despite the ever-present possibility of divorce. There are, however, a number of legal issues that may impact a remarriage more significantly than a first marriage. With the help of a qualified family law attorney, you and your spouse should be able to address these concerns and prevent them from becoming bigger problems:

  • End of Alimony: If you are receiving spousal maintenance payments from your ex-spouse, those payments will most likely end when you get remarried. In fact, cohabitation with your fiancé before your marriage could constitute grounds for terminating spousal support.
  • Child Custody and Visitation: There are no explicit provisions in Illinois law about changing your parental arrangements or parenting time arrangements when a parent gets remarried. However, many such considerations are based on the circumstances of the case and how they impact the child’s well-being. Changing circumstances can precipitate modifications to existing orders.
  • Child Support: In most situations, a remarriage alone will not impact child support agreements. The child’s parents remain responsible for the care of the child, regardless of the addition of new spouses. A parent who is required to pay support might see his or her obligation decrease if he or she were to have a child with the new spouse, but the reduction is not often significant.
  • Decisions Regarding Inheritances and Legacy Gifts: If you own property or valued possessions, you will want to decide prior to remarriage what your intentions are regarding them after your death. Will they be left to your children from your first marriage or to your new spouse? A prenuptial agreement can help you put such concerns to rest before you say “I do” again.

Contact a Wheaton Divorce Lawyer

As with many legal situations, there may be exceptions to any general rule, so the information presented above should serve merely as a helpful reminder of things to consider and not definitive advice. For more information about the potential implications of remarriage, contact an experienced family law attorney in DuPage County. The team at Stock, Carlson & Duff LLC will review your case and help you fully understand the applicable laws as you prepare for the next stage of your life. Call 630-665-2500 for an appointment.

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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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Posted on in Divorce

gray divorce, Wheaton divorce lawyersMore and more older couples are getting divorced in the United States. The divorce rate for people aged 50 and over has doubled since 1990, and more than doubled for those over the age of 65. There are several reasons that may explain why so called “gray divorce” is becoming more common. Firstly, there is far less stigma surrounding divorce than there was even just a few decades ago. Just as younger people do, older individuals want to pursue the life that makes them fulfilled and happy. Sometimes, this means ending a marriage. Gray divorce can come with significant complications, however, and it is critical that those getting divorced at an advanced age educate themselves about what to expect.

Spousal Support Is Often Ordered When a Long-Term Marriage Ends

Illinois courts consider several factors when making spousal maintenance (alimony) decisions. These factors include:

  • The duration of the marriage;
  • Income and property of each party;
  • Present and future earning capacity of each party;
  • Any Impairment to a spouse’s present/future earning capacity;
  • Whether or not the party seeking spousal maintenance can become self-supporting;
  • Standard of living established during the marriage;
  • Health, ages, income, and employability of each spouse;
  • Any contributions a spouse makes to the other’s education or career;
  • Tax consequences; and
  • Any other relevant factors.

Divorcing couples are encouraged to make their own decisions about spousal support. If a couple cannot come to an agreement about spousal maintenance payments, the court will make these decisions for the couple. According to the law in Illinois, the court may only award spousal support if there is a valid reason to do so. Each case is handled on an individual basis.

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