How do state courts decide if alimony is necessary?
When a marriage ends in Illinois, one of the prominent questions that will arise is whether there should be spousal support, also known as alimony. The court will decide if an award is justified, how much it will be and how long it will last.
The court examines each party’s income and property, including marital and non-marital property. It also examines the financial obligations that each party must face after the marriage has ended. In addition, the court will weigh the needs of the parties and the earning capacity of each party. The court will also consider issues of fairness. For instance, if one spouse chose to forgo a career in order to allow the other to get a professional education and pursue a career, the court may find this history a mark in favor of granting spousal support to the lesser-earning party.
If one party needs time to seek training or otherwise boost his or her earning potential, the court may consider this when deciding how long the spousal support obligation should last. The length of the marriage is important. The spouse who is providing support and the spouse who is seeking support may have different ages, health concerns, occupations, sources of income, skills, estate, ability to be employed and needs. There could be different sources of income publicly and privately.
The results of the property division process might have tax consequences that affect one spouse or the other. Contributions and services made by the party who seeks spousal support to the other spouse for his or her training, education, career and licensing can be accounted for. A valid agreement that the parties had before the marriage will be studied. Finally, the court will think about any factor that is deemed to be just and equitable.
Since spousal support can be a contentious issue at the end of a marriage, those who are moving forward with a divorce need to understand what the court will use to decide on it. Discussing the matter with a lawyer who is experienced in family law can help with a case, whether it is a person who is seeking to receive spousal support or the person who will be paying.
Source: ilga.gov, “Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act — Sec. 504. Maintenance.,” accessed on Feb. 7, 2017
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