Read the Transcript of this Podcast Below:
My name is Diana Shepherd and I’m the Editorial Director of Divorce Magazine and Family Lawyer Magazine. Joining me today is Oakbrook Terrace Family Law attorney Dheanna Fikaris and we’ll be discussing spousal maintenance, formerly known as alimony, in Illinois. Practicing law in Illinois since 2006, Dheanna is the founder of Fikaris And Associates.
Diana Shepherd: Who is entitled to spousal maintenance in Illinois and what are the criteria for awarding it?
Dheanna Fikaris: Either party can be entitled to spousal maintenance. Years and years ago, the wife would be a stay-at-home mom and she would get alimony from her husband when they divorced. It’s not that way anymore. Sometimes, wives are paying maintenance to their soon-to-be ex-husbands and vice-versa. It depends on who makes more money; it’s a formulaic approach and the length of the marriage has a bearing on how much maintenance an ex-spouse will receive and for how long.
Does someone have to pay spousal maintenance before the divorce is final?
There can be temporary support orders entered, but it’s temporary and it’s without prejudice – meaning it does not necessarily mean that because a husband, let’s say, is paying $4,000 a month in maintenance to his ex-wife or soon-to-be ex-wife that that will be the amount that will be ordered at the end of the divorce, when it’s final. By a separate motion, the lawyer has to go in and ask for temporary support based on criteria that the wife can’t make it on her own without financial support from her husband because she hasn’t worked outside the home in 15 years while she was raising four children. So, yes there is temporary support, but it is without prejudice, meaning it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what the final amount will be.
In Illinois, do men ever receive spousal maintenance?
Yes – and with the new changes lately, many men are receiving maintenance. In Illinois, we’ve become so accustomed to women receiving it that it has kind of upset the apple cart now that women are being told that they have to pay maintenance to their ex-husband. Maintenance is based on a formula of who makes more money, the length of the marriage, and other factors which decide who should be awarded a maintenance amount – and whether maintenance will be temporary, or for five years, or permanent maintenance for a long-term marriage (like 30 years).
Is spousal maintenance always modifiable? If so, under what circumstances can it be modified?
Maintenance is sometimes modifiable, which I know is not a very clear answer. In general, if the marriage lasted 10 years, under the new laws, four of those 10 years – or 40% – would be the amount the duration of maintenance. Maintenance is modifiable if there’s a significant change of circumstances. People are trying to go back to court now because they were under the old laws and they want to get under the new laws because it’s more financially beneficial for them to do so. However, they cannot do that. There has to be a significant change in circumstance to modify maintenance: for example, the ex-spouse is ill and can’t work, or their salary has gone way up or way down. In general, maintenance is usually not modifiable but can be modified if there’s been a significant change in circumstance.
Diana Shepherd: My guest today has been Illinois Family Law attorney Dheanna Fikaris, founder of Fikaris And Associates in Oakbrook Terrace. Whether you’ll be paying or receiving spousal maintenance as a result of your Illinois divorce, visit www.fikarislawoffices.com to learn how Dheanna and her team at Fikaris And Associates can help to protect your rights.