Divorce in Illinois is often a complex process of resolving various financial issues between divorcing spouses. While property division is often the most contentious of the financial matters that divorcing couples must resolve, it is also possible for some divorcing spouses to face ongoing financial arrangements with their soon-to-be exes.
Johnson O’Keefe has helped many Chicago, IL, clients through complex divorce cases, including those including high net worth couples, contentious property division, and spousal support disputes. While many judges in equitable distribution states like Illinois strive to ensure the fairest possible division of marital assets in the cases they oversee, spousal support is a necessary element of many divorces resolved in the Chicago family court.
Every state uses different statutes to resolve property division and other financial aspects of divorce, and Illinois upholds an equitable distribution law pertaining to property division. This means divorcing spouses are expected to divide marital property in the fairest possible manner. Unfortunately, many find this to be very open to interpretation, and it’s common for divorcing spouses to enter their divorce proceedings holding misconceptions about how spousal support or alimony works.
If you are preparing to divorce, a Chicago spousal support attorney is an invaluable asset for addressing any complex financial matters involved in your case. Johnson O’Keefe can provide meticulous and responsive legal counsel throughout each stage of your divorce, including those pertaining to property division and spousal support. Whether you expect to pay spousal support to your ex or receive it from them as part of your divorce, a Chicago spousal support attorney will be essential for ensuring the fairest outcome possible.
There is a baseline formula used in many Illinois spousal support determinations, but it’s vital to remember that many factors can influence the outcome of any alimony determination in Chicago, and this formula should only be used for a baseline estimate of alimony that might be paid in a particular divorce. The formula is one-third of the higher-earning spouse’s annual income reduced by one-quarter of the lower-earning spouse’s income. In a divorce in which one spouse earns $90,000 per year and the other earns $40,000 per year, the calculation would be ($90,000/3) minus ($40,000/4), or $30,000 minus $10,000 for a $20,000 yearly support obligation.
The amount paid hinges on the difference between the divorcing spouses’ incomes, job prospects, separate property ownership, child custody rights, and various other factors. In most divorces, alimony will be awarded based on the time the marriage lasted, usually continuing for about half of the length of the marriage.
For example, if a couple’s marriage lasted six years, alimony payments may only be necessary for about three years following the finalization of the divorce.
If you are required to pay spousal support, it is essential that you fully understand the terms and conditions of your court order. Failure to pay in full and/or on time can lead to various penalties, from contempt of court to fines, wage garnishment, or even incarceration until owed support is repaid. In addition, if you encounter any unexpected change in your life that prevents you from meeting your support obligations, it is vital to address it as soon as possible with the help of an attorney. The family court system of Illinois provides a modification system that allows for reasonable changes to standing family court orders.
The modification process is relatively straightforward, but it is still a good idea to have legal counsel you can trust to file your petition and prepare for your hearing. If you have recently lost your job due to forces beyond your control, suffered a severe injury resulting in disability, or experienced any other significant change in your life that impacts your ability to meet your support obligation, a Chicago spousal support attorney can help you compile a strong petition for modification. You may also need an attorney’s assistance to file contempt proceedings against your ex if you are owed spousal support, and they have neglected to pay you correctly.
Every alimony order issued in the Illinois family courts will include clear terms and conditions regarding the paying spouse’s obligations. The order will dictate how much they need to pay, how often payments are due, and what they must do if they have a temporary issue preventing them from paying on time. Life can be unpredictable, and spousal support terms are typically flexible in allowing paying spouses to address unforeseen financial problems, but there are severe penalties for intentional violation of one’s spousal support obligations.
Recipients of alimony must also abide by specific terms and conditions. Alimony will continue until the specified expiration date in the order or until the recipient completes a specified “terminating action.” This could be moving in with a new partner, marrying a new spouse, or experiencing a drastic improvement in their financial situation. Their alimony order will include terms for reporting any such changes, and they must meet these obligations at all times.
If a recipient of alimony completes a terminating action, the paying spouse is no longer required to make spousal support payments. If the recipient intentionally concealed a terminating action for the purpose of continuing to collect alimony illegally, they can face criminal charges and owe civil damages to their ex. It is never worth violating any standing family court order in Illinois, as doing so will invariably incur severe penalties.
Time is a critical factor in any divorce. If you face complex financial issues in your impending dissolution, it’s vital to have legal counsel you can trust readily available to assist you. The sooner you connect with a trustworthy Chicago spousal support attorney, the more time they have to work on your case, helping you reach the best outcome possible.
Alimony can be a very contentious issue in any divorce, and Johnson O’Keefe has the professional resources and experience you need on your side to reach a favorable conclusion to your case. Contact us today to schedule your case evaluation with a Chicago spousal support attorney. In addition, Johnson O’Keefe can review the details of your financial issues and help you make more informed decisions as you progress through the Illinois family court.
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