Cook County Judge finds wife’s employment prospects hopeful

In our last post we discussed a divorce involving a wife who was found to have dissipated marital assets during the divorce proceedings. In her appeal, the wife also challenged the trial court’s maintenance determination.

When awarding maintenance, Cook County courts look at several factors including the income and property of each party, their needs, future earning capacity, among other things. Like many stay-at-home mothers, the wife in this case had both an undergraduate and a graduate degree, but chose to stay at home and raise the couple’s children because her physician husband made enough to support the entire family.

Although the wife’s employment consisted of working low-paying part-time jobs, the court found that her education weighed against a larger maintenance award for her.

The court found that under Illinois law, the wife had a duty to seek and accept “appropriate” employment. The wife had a law degree and the court decided that the wife should have sought employment as a lawyer after losing custody of her children instead of pursuing another advanced degree.

In awarding a gross amount of maintenance, the appeals court found that the amount was sufficient to fairly compensate the wife while acknowledging that her level of education did not bar her from earning substantial amounts of money in the future.

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