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DuPage County divorce lawyersChild support and alimony are often awarded to one of the spouses in a divorce, but not in every case. How do you determine if you may be eligible for these types of post-divorce support, and what can you do to ensure you receive the most amount possible? The following explains. 

Alimony Considerations in an Illinois Divorce 

Before a judge will award you alimony, you must be determined eligible, which generally requires that you be “disadvantaged” in some way. Examples of situations that may deem you “disadvantaged” in a divorce include:

  • A physical, mental, or emotional condition that prevents you from working;
  • A lack of education, skills, or recent work experience you need to obtain gainful employment;
  • Serving as a caregiver during your marriage (either to your children or your spouse); or
  • Supporting your spouse while they further their career or education (especially if it impacted you financially). 

If you are deemed eligible, a formula will be applied to your situation to determine your alimony entitlement and time-frame. The longer you were married, and the greater your spouse’s income, the greater your entitlement is likely to be in an Illinois divorce. 

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DuPage County spousal maintenance lawyer tax lawsNew tax laws that went into effect for this year have brought about quite a few changes. One major change, which could be bad news for those who are currently in the process of divorce, is that alimony (known as spousal maintenance under Illinois law) is no longer tax-deductible for those who pay it, and it will not be considered taxable income for those who receive it. This may be a major loss for people who are required to pay a large amount of alimony.

The 2018 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) is in effect now, and it applies to any divorce cases finalized after December 31, 2018. Therefore, going forward, any divorce that includes spousal maintenance will follow the new rules. Pre-2019 divorcees, however, may still qualify for the old rules.

Payors: Does Your Pre-2019 Agreement Meet Requirements for Tax-Deductible Alimony?

Many factors go into determining whether you can still deduct your spousal support payments from your taxes, including, but not limited to the following: 

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Illinois alimony attorneysAlimony, otherwise known as spousal maintenance, is not routinely awarded in Illinois. However, it is an element in some divorce cases. Learn how determinations regarding alimony are made, including how long you can expect to receive payments, and discover how a seasoned divorce lawyer can help you pursue the most favorable outcome in your case. 

Illinois’ Statutory Guidelines on Alimony 

Most of the time, family courts use a set of statutory guidelines to determine the amount and duration of alimony payments. While the court may deviate from these rules, they must either provide a valid reason for doing so, or the combined annual income of the parties must amount to more than $500,000. In those instances, the court may weigh several factors to determine the amount and duration of alimony payments (i.e. the length of the marriage, contributions of each party to the marital estate, ability to work, education, etc.). Otherwise, an alimony award is usually determined using a two-step process. 

  • The amount of alimony to be paid each year is determined by subtracting 20 percent of the receiving spouse’s gross income from 30 percent of the paying party’s gross income. 
  • The duration that alimony should be paid is determined by multiplying the years of marriage by a specific percentage (based on the number of years the parties were married). The product of the equation is the number of years that alimony will be paid. 

In 2018, the courts changed the multiplying factors used to determine the duration of spousal support, which has resulted in some parties receiving alimony for a shorter amount of time. These new percentages are as follows: 

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Illinois alimony lawyersAlimony, though awarded less frequently today than it once was, is still a component in some divorces. Thanks to the changing tax laws under the Tax Code and Jobs Act, the rules that once applied will be changing as well. More specifically, parties who pay alimony will not be eligible for a tax deduction if their divorce is finalized after December 31, 2018. Learn more about how this new law may impact your post-divorce finances and discover some strategies for minimizing the damage in the following sections. 

Alimony Under the New Tax Law

The new tax law removes the deduction that alimony paying spouse once received. Sadly, this can keep them in a higher tax bracket, which may ultimately impact the amount of alimony that they are willing to pay. The receiving spouse, though no longer required to pay taxes on their alimony money, may receive a lower award, thanks to their spouse’s tax bracket stance. The new tax law may also hinder negotiations, making for a longer, more drawn-out divorce, which also drives up the cost of divorce. In short, the new law could have a significant impact on the finances of all involved parties, both during and long after the divorce. 

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Illinois divorce lawyersTaxes, though not often discussed, are a critical element in almost every divorce, and they are especially important when alimony may be owed. Thanks to the new Tax Code and Jobs Act, everything about alimony and taxes will change, come the start of 2019. Find out how and discover what it could mean for your Illinois divorce in the following sections. 

The New Tax Law and Divorce - An Overview

While the new tax law may not affect all divorces, it is likely to have a significant impact on cases involving alimony. Parties who pay support and complete their divorce after December 31, 2018, will no longer receive a tax deduction at the end of the year, and receiving spouses will no longer be required to pay taxes on the alimony they receive. At first glance, this might seem like a benefit for the family, but appearances can be deceiving. 

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Illinois alimony attorneysSpousal support, though less frequently awarded in divorce than it used to be, is still an option for disadvantaged spouses. However, many things have changed over the last few years. For example, more women are the primary breadwinners in their families, so more men are pursuing spousal support. Another major difference is that the formula for calculating alimony changed back in 2015. Discover how to tell if you may be eligible for spousal support, and how it is calculated in an Illinois divorce today.

Are You Eligible for Spousal Support?

Despite the common misconception, alimony is not always awarded, just because it is requested. Instead, spouses who wish to receive alimony must fit a few criteria before they are considered eligible by the courts. For example, the courts may award alimony when:

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DuPage County family law lawyers, spousal supportThe purpose of spousal maintenance is to provide one partner with the financial means to support himself or herself according to a reasonable standard of living after a divorce. The award of alimony to one spouse is subject to modification based upon a variety of factors; however, the Illinois statute is clear on the circumstances that will terminate support:

  1. The death of either former spouse;
  2. Remarriage of the recipient party; or
  3. Cohabitation by the recipient party.

While the first two situations are straightforward, the cohabitation factor can be slightly tricky. It is necessary to take a close look at complicated statutory language and review case law, so you will need an experienced spousal maintenance attorney to assist with your situation.

Cohabitation Factors That Terminate Maintenance

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DuPage County divorce attorneys, unallocated child supportChild support and spousal maintenance are two of many considerations in an Illinois divorce, and the financial obligations included in a final decree will vary based upon the unique circumstances of the parties involved. When a divorcing couple can agree to certain support issues, there are tax benefits that the couple can take advantage of by structuring payments in a certain way. An arrangement termed “unallocated” child support is attractive to both parties. Speak with an Illinois divorce attorney with experience in tax matters to see if it is an option for you.

Default Rules on Spousal and Child Support

Spousal support, commonly termed alimony, is paid by the spouse in a higher income bracket to the individual with a lower income; the intent behind spousal support is to ensure that person enjoys a similar lifestyle after the divorce as compared to when the couple shared a household. Under federal law, the payor spouse can deduct alimony payments when filing individual income tax returns. However, child support falls under a different set of tax laws and is not deductible from the payor parent’s income taxes.

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DuPage County family law attorney, spousal maintenance agreementsIn many divorce cases, the parties are able to agree upon spousal maintenance and the terms of the arrangement are entered into the final dissolution of marriage order. Under Illinois law, the agreement is binding on the parties, but it can be modified under certain circumstances. At times, it may be necessary and appropriate to make changes, as many life-changing events can occur after the divorce is finalized. The ex-spouses must look to the specific terms of the agreement to determine whether it can be modified. Hence, it is important to consult with an Illinois spousal maintenance attorney before you sign.

Agreements Regarding Modification

The terms of a spousal maintenance agreement typically cover the amount one spouse pays to the other, how often, and whether there are any events that would cause maintenance to terminate. In addition to payment basics, a divorcing couple can also include different types of modification provisions in their spousal maintenance agreement:

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DuPage County family law attorneys, spousal maintenanceThere are several matters that a court will determine during the divorce process in Illinois, and spousal maintenance is among the top issues that a judge will decide. The term spousal maintenance refers to the financial support that one ex-spouse pays to the other, commonly known as “alimony.”

The first consideration that a court will review is whether spousal maintenance is appropriate under the circumstances; Illinois law lists a number of different factors to weigh, including income, earning capacity, property, and duration of the marriage.

One point that is often hotly contested is when one spouse’s role is focused primarily on domestic duties during the marriage. Two factors under the Illinois divorce statute speak to exactly this type of situation.

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Posted on in Divorce

DuPage County divorce lawyers, divorce mythsIt may seem like there are “experts” all around you when you share that you are considering divorce. Friends, family, neighbors, and others without a legal background will tell you all about their own experiences. However, it is important to take their advice with a grain of salt: You should only trust a qualified Illinois divorce attorney with these types of proceedings to ensure protection of your legal rights. Look out for some of the most common myths about divorce and steer clear of taking any action based on misinformation.

You Must Win the Race to the Courthouse

There is no advantage if you are the first to file for divorce; both spouses to a marriage have equal rights and obligations under Illinois law. The first spouse to file is not called a “plaintiff” in divorce cases and there are no negative connotations due to the other not being called a “defendant.” The person who initiates the divorce is termed the petitioner and the other is the respondent.

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DuPage County family law attorneys, modifying spousal maintenanceYour circumstances can change considerably in the months and years after your divorce, especially your financial situation. The spousal maintenance arrangement ordered by the court as part of the dissolution of marriage process may not be appropriate anymore, but you do have options for amending the terms. While you should discuss the specifics for modifying spousal support with an Illinois divorce lawyer, an understanding of certain general information may prove helpful.

State Law on Spousal Maintenance Modification

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides that an order for spousal maintenance can be modified by showing a “substantial change in circumstances.” Both the ex-spouse receiving support and the one paying it can request a change to increase, decrease, or terminate maintenance payments. The law lists a number of factors indicating a substantial change in circumstances, including:

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Posted on in Spousal Maintenance

DuPage County maintenance and alimony attorneys, alimonyIf you are considering divorce, you may have concerns regarding whether or not you will have to pay alimony, also known as spousal support or maintenance. Spousal support is less common than it once was, but it is still ordered in some divorces.

Factors the Court Takes into Consideration

The court considers several factors when determining a spousal maintenance award. Maintenance calculations are separate from child support (for the most part) and are not influenced by any marital wrongdoing or fault. The factors the court will look at include the income and property of each spouse, the financial needs of the spouses, the length of the marriage, and the future and present earning capacity and job prospects of the spouses. Additionally, the court will look at whether the spouse requesting alimony contributed to the education or training of the other spouse, the health of the spouses, and any other considerations the court finds relevant.

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Posted on in Divorce

Parenting Time and Taxes, DuPage County family law lawyersIf you are considering or in the process of divorce and there are kids involved, you also need to think about the tax consequences of different options regarding maintenance, child support and parenting time. To be sure, there exist some important tax considerations that may apply to divorced or divorcing parents and their children.

Filing Status

The first tax consideration to think about is your filing status. As you probably know you file your taxes during the April after the previous tax year. The key time and date to look at is December 31 at 11:59pm. If you were married at that date and time during the previous year then you need to file either “married filing jointly” or “married filing separately.” If you were divorced by then, then you can file “single” or “head of household.” You are still married until the judge issues the divorce decree. This is an important consideration and you may want to plan the date of your divorce with this in mind.

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DuPage County maintenance and alimony attorneys, alimony and maintenanceWhen a couple divorces, sometimes one spouse is ordered to pay the other spouse maintenance. Maintenance used to be called alimony and is generally paid from the higher earning spouse to the lower earning spouse. Maintenance can be ordered by a judge or a couple can agree on it. There are several types of spousal maintenance and different circumstances that apply when determining whether maintenance will be paid, how much, and for what period of time. Therefore, if you are seeking maintenance after a divorce, then it is imperative to understand the specifics of this process and to enlist the help of a skilled family law attorney.

Kinds of Spousal Maintenance

Different types of spousal support can be ordered depending on the situation and include the following:

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Posted on in Divorce

DuPage County divorce attorneys, divorce in IllinoisChanges have finally come to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5)—changes that The Illinois General Assembly passed last July and went into effect January 1, 2016. The new bill, SB 57, significantly modifies the areas of child custody and divorce.

Grounds Are No Longer Required for Divorce

Traditionally, Illinois was a “no-fault” state. However, divorces could also be granted on specific grounds. Under SB 57, a spouse seeking divorce no longer needs to state grounds for the divorce in his or her divorce petition.

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DuPage County family law lawyer, calculating spousal maintenanceWhen spouses separate, it is possible that one spouse will need financial support. Illinois law provides courts with specific guidelines for determining the amount and duration of spousal maintenance.

If you and your spouse are divorcing and you are interested in learning more about spousal maintenance, do not hesitate to contact an attorney with skill and experience in the field of family law.

Types of Spousal Support

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Posted on in Spousal Maintenance

DuPage County family law attorneys, ending spousal support

There are several forms of spousal support, or alimony, under Illinois law. Alimony can be periodic or permanent. Alimony may also take the form of a lump-sum payment or a transfer of property. Most alimony, however, is periodic. A supporting spouse will usually make regular payments to the supported spouse for a specific period of time. If the supported spouse decides to remarry or cohabitate, alimony payments will be impacted.

Remarrying and Alimony Awards

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DuPage County family law attorneys, entitled to spousal supportSpousal support is one of the biggest issues in a divorce. Also referred to as alimony or maintenance, spousal support requires that one former spouse continues to financially support the other former spouse for a period of time or permanently. There are several different types of maintenance that can be agreed upon or ordered by court. However, it must first be determined whether either spouse is entitled to receive support from the other.

Temporary Spousal Support 

During the course of divorce proceedings, one spouse can receive temporary maintenance from the other. This temporary alimony has no effect on whether permanent spousal support will be awarded at the end of the divorce, but it can serve to help provide for the lesser earning spouse while the divorce is ongoing. Typically, temporary alimony begins when one spouse files for divorce and it ends when the divorce is finalized. 

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The Impact of Infidelity on Alimony in Illinois

One of the most hotly contested aspects of divorce proceedings is alimony, also known as spousal support. The process of coming to an agreement on how much, if anything, one spouse must pay the other spouse following divorce forces spouses to examine their respective contributions to the marriage.

With two-earner households as the norm, the process of teasing out how much each spouse contributed, both financially and through their responsibilities in the home, can be intensely complicated. Throw in sacrifices made by one spouse to support the wellbeing of the whole family, such as working two jobs to put the other spouse through school or training, and the balance required by alimony becomes even harder to strike.

Alimony is a device used under Illinois law to ensure that when spouses part ways, they are on relatively equal ground financially. Because marriage is a joint venture, in which couples share the burden of financial hardship and the benefit of economic success, the end of a marriage is viewed by judges as an opportunity to ensure that fairness is achieved through the process.

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