It often seems that as soon as the issue of divorce comes up between you and your spouse, so too does the matter of alimony. A vast majority of the clients that come to see us here at the Essig Law Office do so assuming that they will either have to pay or be entitled to receive alimony. No matter which perspective they are coming from, nearly all are shocked to learn that the awarding of spousal maintenance is not automatic. Rather, the judge hearing your case in Washington will make a determination as to whether or not it is even an option.
Alimony is not meant to be a punitive obligation. Instead, it is supposed to provide the financial assistance your ex-spouse will need to sustain the same standard of living that they enjoyed while still married. The expectation is, however, that they will eventually get to the point of no longer needing support (either by securing their own gainful employment or entering into another supportive relationship). The court considers this when making the decision to award spousal maintenance, and then in determining which type you will be obligated to pay.
Per the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, the state recognizes three distinct types of maintenance:
- Fixed-term maintenance: The court puts a defined beginning and end-date on your maintenance obligation
- Reviewable maintenance: The court stipulates that your maintenance obligation be periodically reviewed to determine if it is still needed
- Indefinite maintenance: The court does not specify an end-date for your maintenance obligation
Do not let the word” indefinite” fool you; such an obligation can still be ended if it comes to light that your spouse no longer needs alimony.
More information on spousal maintenance obligations can be found here on our site.