Maintenance

Maintenance is what was formerly known as alimony, and is spousal support. If your earnings are equivalent to those of your spouse, the Court will not likely award you any maintenance. However, if you have been an at home parent, and have placed parenting ahead of career considerations, and hence, make considerably less money than your spouse, then the Courts are likely to award some maintenance. Permanent maintenance is unusual. With a long term marriage and a 50/50 split on marital assets, sometimes you will see a Court award permanent maintenance to a spouse. However, if the spouse is under the age of 50, and has no medical impairment, the Courts expect that spouse to obtain the necessary education or training to enable them to earn a reasonable living. Illinois has a concept known as "rehabilitative maintenance". That is, when the party earning significantly less money, or no money, not being employed outside of the home, has a plan to obtain a certain amount of education and can expect to obtain employment with decent earnings thereafter, the Court tends to have the spouse pay for some or all of the tuition and expenses involved in getting the training or education necessary. You will also find that the Court is more likely to award some temporary maintenance for the duration of that training or education. Judges are much more inclined to award maintenance when the spouse has a particular goal in mind, with clearly set out facts and figures as to what it is going to take to obtain that goal.

One of the scenarios the Judges like to employ is dividing the marital property other than 50/50, awarding a larger proportion of the marital property to the spouse earning less income, and forgoing maintenance payments. That way, the Court is not bothered with enforcement or modification issues that may well arise with ongoing maintenance payments. The most common division is a 60/40 split, with 60% going to the spouse earning less income, and in lieu of maintenance. If there are enough marital assets that the 10% amounts to something, you may want to consider taking that as a settlement, rather than depending on your spouse to make timely maintenance payments. If maintenance is ordered over a period of time, your spouse could come back with any "substantial change in circumstances" and ask that the Order be modified. A change in circumstance could be retirement, loss of a job, medical disability, etc.