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How do Illinois courts determine spousal support?

We've spent a lot of time on this blog discussing the financial ramifications of divorce. Although marriage dissolution can certainly be costly, in some instances, the mere decision to get married can set the stage for potential financial hardship. This is especially true for those who, once married, choose to forego an education or career in order to take care of a family. For these individuals, divorce can leave them with inadequate income to maintain the standard of living to which they have grown accustomed, which may be unfair.

For this reason, Illinois law allows individuals to seek spousal support. Under the law, a court is to consider a number of factors when determining whether alimony should be paid and, if so, how much that payment should be. First, a court will consider each party's income and assets and how those assets will be divided through the divorce process. Then, a judge may look at what each party needs. After assessing those needs, a court will analyze the current and prospective earning capacity of the individual who is seeking support.

Once a court has determined potential earning capacity, it may look to other factors that may affect that earning potential. An individual's limitations, as well as the amount of time needed for him or her to obtain needed education or training, will be taken into account when making a determination. Then, a court will consider the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage, as well as the length of the marriage.

Of course, with so many factors to consider, a court leaves this issue open to significant legal argument. Therefore, those who believe they are entitled to spousal support, as well as those opposing it, need to ensure that they have gathered sufficient evidence and crafted persuasive legal arguments to support their position. Oftentimes, the assistance of a skilled family law attorney is imperative in this process.

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