When a marriage ends, the judge may award spousal support if one party is financially less stable than the other. Once an order is entered, it remains in effect until it is terminated or modified by an order of the court. To secure a modification, you must prove that a substantial change in circumstances occurred.
Factors Considered for Modifying a Spousal Support Order
Spousal support is ordered with the intention of providing financial assistance to one’s former spouse. The goal is to create an equitable split of assets between the two parties after their divorce. In Illinois, the courts consider a variety of factors when deciding whether to grant spousal maintenance, or alimony, including:
- The financial well being of each spouse;
- The earning potential of each spouse;
- The ability of each spouse to self-support;
- The physical, mental and emotional condition of each spouse;
- The existence of any valid separation agreement;
- Length of marriage; and
- The couple’s standard of living during the marriage
A modification of spousal support requires that a significant change of circumstance be proven. This requires more than a slight difference in one’s financial situation. You must prove that something substantial occurred to change the situation as it stood at the time of the initial support order’s determination. In addition, the wording of your spousal support order and the time must have lapsed because the initial order may affect your eligibility to secure a modification.
Some common circumstances that typically lead to a maintenance modification include:
- Remarriage of the supported spouse. If the spouse receiving maintenance remarries, the court will terminate the paying spouse’s alimony obligation;
- Cohabitation by the supported spouse. If the spouse receiving maintenance begins romantically cohabitating with another party, the court may terminate the other spouse’s alimony obligation;
- Substantial increase in earnings for the supported spouse. If the spouse receiving maintenance secures a new job that significantly raises his or her income level, the court may decrease or terminate the other spouse’s alimony obligation;
- Substantial decrease in earnings for the supporting spouse. If the spouse paying maintenance loses his or her job and experiences a significant decrease in his or her income, the court may decrease or terminate the alimony obligation; and
- Death of either spouse. This automatically terminates the spousal support obligation.
Work with a Cook County Divorce Attorney
In order to begin a modification case, you must file a motion to modify it with the court. Your Cook County divorce attorney can assist you with filing in the correct court. Once the motion is filed, you must serve your former spouse with notification of the motion and give him or her an opportunity to respond. If he or she agrees to the modification, the court may grant it without an appearance in court. If he or she refutes your assertions, you may have to appear in court for a hearing on the merits of your request.
If you believe that your circumstances require a change in your spousal support arrangement, contact an experienced family law attorney to discuss the merits of your case. The attorneys of SAM Law Office, LLC provide the residents of Cook County with excellent domestic law representation.