Changing or terminating alimony payments in Illinois

Modifying a marital settlement agreement is a difficult task for many Illinois residents.

One common reason that a person seeks to modify a marital settlement is to change an alimony or maintenance award.

In Illinois, it is possible to modify or terminate a maintenance award only upon showing a “substantial change in circumstances.” The party seeking the change in a settlement has the burden of affirmatively showing the substantial change of circumstances.

Factors that may result in a “change of circumstances.”

There are nine main factors that can constitute a change of circumstances under Illinois law:

  1. A good-faith change of employment status of either spouse.
  2. Reasonable efforts made by the alimony recipient to become self-supporting.
  3. Either spouse’s impairment in present or future earning capacity.
  4. Tax consequences of alimony payments.
  5. Duration of alimony payments compared to the length of the marriage.
  6. The property awarded to each spouse during divorce proceedings and the present status of the property.
  7. A change in income of either spouse.
  8. Property acquired and currently owned after the divorce.
  9. Any other factor that a court deems just and equitable.

Other “relevant factors” in alimony modification proceedings.

In addition to the nine main factors that can constitute a “change of circumstances,” Illinois courts often also consider:

  • The income of each spouse.
  • The needs of each spouse.
  • The present and future earning potential of each spouse.
  • Any impairment in present or future income of the party seeking alimony due to time spent on domestic duties or having missed out (or delayed) education, training or other career opportunities due to the marriage.
  • The time needed for the spouse seeking alimony to get career training (or to raise the children and therefore forego work.)
  • Standard of living established during marriage.
  • Duration of the marriage.
  • The age of the spouses.
  • The physical and emotional condition of the spouses.
  • The tax consequences of a previous property division.
  • Contributions that the spouse made to the education, career or other circumstances of the other spouse.
  • Any valid agreements of the parties.

It is easy to see that courts can look at just about anything they want to when deciding to change an alimony award. This is why it is important to have a skilled advocate in court in order to present the facts in a light that is most favorable to your case.

Rolling Meadows attorney Donald J. Cosley is highly experienced in divorce and alimony cases. If you have a question about alimony modification, contact him online or call 847-253-3100.

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