Ekker Law, P.C. / Steven B. Ekker, Esq.

221 S. Main Street, Suite 200
Sugar Grove, IL 60554

Ekker Law, P.C. / Steven B. Ekker, Esq.

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Sugar Grove divorce attorneySpousal maintenance, spousal support, and alimony are all terms used to describe financial support that one spouse pays to the other after a divorce. Traditionally, spousal support was paid by husbands to wives. However, Illinois law now treats women and men the same with regard to spousal maintenance entitlement. If you are getting divorced, you may have questions about how much spousal maintenance payments will be and how long these payments last. The amount and duration of spousal maintenance vary from case to case, but there are general rules that apply to all divorce cases in Illinois.

How Much Money Does a Spouse Receive?

A spouse may be entitled to maintenance payments if the couple agrees to maintenance in a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement or during the divorce process, or if the court awards maintenance based on the spouses’ financial circumstances. If the payment amount is decided by the court, a statutory formula is typically used to determine maintenance. A quarter of the recipient spouse’s annual net income is subtracted from a third of the paying spouse’s annual net income to determine the amount of maintenance. In some cases, Illinois courts deviate from this rule; however, this is usually how maintenance is calculated.

How Long Do Spousal Maintenance Payments Last?

The duration of spousal maintenance varies. Typically, maintenance is paid on a time-limited basis. This financial assistance gives the recipient spouse time to find suitable education and employment. However, permanent or indefinite maintenance may be available for marriages lasting 20 years or longer.

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Sugar Grove family law attorneyIt may be hard to believe, but Christmas is just a few months away. If you are a parent who plans to divorce or has already started the divorce process, it is important to consider how you will account for holidays in your parenting plan. Where a child will spend Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter, and other holidays is often a major point of contention. Many parents have strong feelings about who their child should spend these special days with. Holidays can also present co-parenting challenges because of the disruption in school and childcare routines.

Parenting Time Schedules in Your Illinois Parenting Plan

Although we still use the words “custody” and “visitation” informally to refer to parenting matters in a divorce, Illinois laws no longer use these words to refer to child custody matters. Instead, parents decide on an allocation of parental responsibilities, or decision-making authority, and parenting time, or time spent caring for the child.

Illinois law requires divorcing parents to submit a parenting plan to the court for approval within 120 days of seeking a custody order. The parents may agree on the plan’s terms and submit the plan jointly, or if they cannot agree, parents may submit separate plans. When parents cannot agree, the court typically requires the parents to attend mediation. If an out-of-court agreement still cannot be made, the court may decide on the parenting plan terms for the parents.

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sugar grove divorce lawyerEquitable distribution states, such as Illinois, courts equitably divide assets and debts during divorce. The assets and debts are considered the couple’s marital property, and the division of such property can be complex. Businesses may also fall under the umbrella of marital property. The two parties will have to appropriately divide the interest they share in the business, often requiring the assistance of expert witnesses to value the business’s assets effectively. 

Businesses Can Be Considered Marital Assets

Businesses will automatically be considered marital property if the spouses are co-owners. However, there are several additional ways in which a business may be deemed marital property. For instance, if the business was formed after the two parties married, it will likely be considered marital property. Alternatively, when businesses are formed prior to marriage, they likely will not be included in marital property. An exception to this would be if the other spouse made direct or indirect contributions to the business throughout the marriage. 

Prenuptial agreements can help to prevent businesses from being considered marital property in the event of a divorce. Alternatively, if the business is formed during the marriage, a postnuptial agreement can be utilized to clarify ownership of the business.

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Kane County family law attorneyAlimony, technically called “spousal maintenance” in Illinois law, refers to financial support that one spouse pays the other spouse after a divorce. Temporary spousal maintenance orders called “temporary relief orders” may also be issued if a spouse requires financial support while the divorce is ongoing. Spousal maintenance or spousal support is an important source of financial assistance, especially for stay-at-home parents and spouses who have been out of the workforce for several years. There are three main legal avenues through which spousal maintenance is awarded in Illinois.

Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreements

A prenuptial agreement is a legally binding contract that spouses agree to before getting married. Prenuptial agreements, or “prenups,” address important financial concerns if a married couple divorces or a spouse passes away. Through a prenup, a couple can agree to a spousal maintenance arrangement in advance. This can save a great deal of time and stress during a future divorce. A postnuptial agreement is very similar to a prenup, but the couple drafts the agreement after they are already married.

Spousal Maintenance Agreements in the Divorce Settlement

Movies and television often make it seem as if most divorce cases go to trial. In reality, about 95 percent of divorces are settled before trial. Often, the spouses, or the spouses’ respective attorneys, negotiate the terms of the divorce and reach an out-of-court settlement. Whether you are the paying spouse or the recipient spouse, a skilled divorce lawyer can protect your rights and advocate on your behalf during spousal maintenance negotiations. Once you and your spouse reach an agreement on the amount, duration, and conditions of maintenance, this agreement can be written into the final divorce decree.

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Sugar Grove divorce attorneyThe financial impact of divorce can be profound. Divorced spouses may be left carrying a heavy financial burden months or years after the split. In some cases, spouses are not even aware of their financial circumstances until they reach the end of their marriage. They may start readying financial documents in preparation for divorce only to find that their spouse has squandered funds, sold property, or otherwise wasted assets unbeknownst to them. In other cases, a spouse’s financial recklessness is the main catalyst for the divorce.

Regardless of the exact circumstances, if your spouse has wasted money or property and you are getting divorced, you may be able to recover some or all of this property through a dissipation claim.

What is the Purpose of a Dissipation of Assets Claim?

A dissipation of assets claim is a legal claim used to pursue reimbursement for property that was wasted before the divorce. If your claim is successful, your spouse will be required to reimburse the marital estate for the funds that were lost to dissipation. You would then be entitled to an equitable share of that property per Illinois’s equitable distribution laws.

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