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St. Charles divorce lawyer spousal supportIllinois has a penchant for using a language of its own in matters of child support and spousal support. Just as child custody has been recast as the “allocation of parental responsibility,” permanent maintenance in matters of spousal support (alimony) is now termed “maintenance for an indefinite term.” Importantly, however, with this semantic change comes a new approach to long-term spousal maintenance in Illinois.

Beginning in 2018, Illinois Spousal Support is Less Likely to Be Permanent

“Maintenance for an indefinite term” is less likely to be permanent in nature than “permanent maintenance.” Linguistically, this makes sense, as permanence is synonymous with the word “forever,” while indefiniteness merely speaks to an end point that has yet to be determined. In terms of numbers – which are far more useful than words when it comes to forecasting spousal maintenance in Illinois – the duration of the marriage is a helpful starting point. 

The length of the marriage is often the initial term of years established in a decree of “maintenance for an indefinite term.” While this term, if derived from a marriage of 20 years or more, may in effect amount to permanent maintenance (in the sense that it will go on for the lifetime of each former spouse), the same cannot be said of a relatively brief marriage. For marriages of less than 20 years, maintenance will last for a certain percentage of the length of the marriage. 

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Elgin spousal maintenance lawyerWhen a couple decides to end their marriage and get divorced, one spouse is often at a financial disadvantage. Whether this is because they have chosen to be a homemaker rather than pursue a career, or simply because they earn a smaller income, they may struggle to make ends meet. In these cases, the law provides them with the ability to receive payments from their former partner which will allow them to maintain a similar standard of living to what they enjoyed while they were married.

In Illinois, the guidelines for determining maintenance (which is also known as spousal support or alimony) are a factor of the parties’ joint income. In matters of maintenance, there is a payor (the person paying out the maintenance) and a payee (the person receiving the maintenance). There is also an important line of demarcation: $500,000. Maintenance award formulas differ, depending on whether the parties’ income is below this figure or not.

A Forty Percent Cap May Complicate Maintenance Calculations

Starting on January 1, 2018, a maintenance award where the parties’ joint income is less than $500,000 annually should equal 30% of the payor’s gross income minus 20% of the payee’s gross income, with the caveat that the award, after being added to the payee’s gross income, cannot be greater than 40% of the parties’ combined gross income. To make this formula more tangible, let us consider an example: 

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Elgin divorce lawyer parental rightsWhile Illinois is a “no fault” state in matters of divorce, the casting of blame and claiming of negative attributes is arguably still relevant in one matter that is directly related to divorce: the allocation of parental responsibility. Decisions about where children will live and who will be responsible for making decisions regarding how they are raised can be among the most contentious issues that parents must address during divorce. When working to resolve these issues, it is essential to have an attorney on your side who can protect your rights and advocate for your family’s best interests.

Allocating Parental Responsibility and Parenting Time in Illinois

Illinois law no longer uses the term “child custody” when referring to the legal or physical custody of children following divorce. This term has been replaced with “allocation of parental responsibilities.” The law identifies four areas of decision-making responsibility that can be divided or shared between parents: education, healthcare, religion, and extracurricular activities.

In addition to identifying areas of decision-making responsibility, Illinois law also refers to the time children spend with both parents as “parenting time,” rather than designating a custodial parent and granting visitation to the other parent. With this change, the law recognizes the importance of both parents’ roles in their children’s lives. 

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Kane County divorce lawyer for irreconcilable differencesJust as soaring temperatures in summer months correlate with increased conflict on a global scale, the season also seems to lead to increased cases of divorce. August, which is often hottest and most humid month, is the time of year when divorce filings peak. But why is this the case?

August and March are Peak Months for Divorce Filings

Researchers at the University of Washington analyzed data about divorce filings to determine the times of the year in which divorces are most common. They suggested a possible reason for the high number of divorce filings in August: unhappy vacations. 

Vacations and holidays are, unfortunately, illuminating of marital fissures that have passed the point of healing. One of the researchers, a professor of sociology, pointed out that vacations often represent a final opportunity for a couple to heal their marriage, allowing them to get away from the residence and daily routines where discontent has been sown and make an attempt to communicate and have fun in a conducive vacation environment.

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