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In family law, what factors are relevant for maintenance?

When a couple in Illinois separates or divorces, there is frequent confusion as to what factors are considered when spousal support - also known as maintenance - is determined. Those who are either seeking support or are likely to have to pay support need to have a grasp on these sometimes complicated family law issues, lest they be subjected to an unfair outcome. It is therefore wise to understand what criteria is used to make the decision on maintenance.

The following factors are considered when making an alimony determination: the income and property possessed by each party, including marital and non-marital property; what each party needs; the realistic earning capacity of each individual in the present and the future; an issues that could hinder the parties' earning capacity; and an impairment of the realistic earning capacity in the present and future of the party who is being pursued for maintenance.

Also considered will be: the amount of time that will be needed for the party seeking maintenance to obtain training, education and employment and if the person can support him or herself in the meantime; the standard of living that the person grew accustomed to during the marriage; the marriage's length; the age, health, standing, occupation, income, skills, ability to garner employment, and other issues that are relevant to the parties; public and private income sources including retirement and disability pay; tax consequences; whether one party supported the other while he or she sought education or career advancement; any valid agreement that was made between the parties; and any other factor that could be viewed as relevant.

Maintenance is often seen as a certainty when couples dissolve their marriage. This is not the case, though. Instead, the state will take the above factors into account when making a determination as to what, if any, maintenance will be paid. Speaking to an attorney about this complex family law issue can help in dealing with it and coming to a reasonable solution.

Source: Illinois General Assembly, "Sec. 504. Maintenance.," accessed on May 24, 2016

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