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An Increase in the Number of Women Paying Alimony to Men: How Much is Too Much?

In an article recently published in the Chicago Tribune, the United States in the last few years has seen a significant increase in the number of women who are paying alimony (also known as “maintenance”) to their ex-husbands. The changes reflect a gender-neutral interpretation of laws regarding spousal support and the trend of many women being the breadwinners within the family while the men are taking on more supportive, domestic roles within the household.

Factors Evaluated in Spousal Maintenance Calculation According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, spousal support or maintenance is determined at the time of the dissolution of the marriage. At this time, the court takes into consideration a variety of factors, and the weighing of these factors ultimately leads to the calculation of the support to be given to one spouse from the other. The following are some of the factors that are evaluated:
  • The marital and non-marital property owned by each spouse and the amount that each spouse receives after the marital property has been divided;
  • The earning capacity of each spouse, present and future, taking into consideration each party's contribution to the home if one of the spouses is responsible for the domestic affairs of the household;
  • The age and any physical or mental impairment or disability of each individual, which requires certain financial needs and affects the earning capacity of the individual;
  • The duration of and quality of life of the marriage; and
  • Any other factor that the Court should take into consideration so that the maintenance is just and equitable.
Factors to Evaluate When Modifying or Terminating Spousal Support Payments Though it is up to the Court and its calculations for how much spousal support an individual should receive, this award amount is not set in stone. The Court may be able to take into consideration changes in circumstances that would affect the amount of spousal support that the party should be receiving or if the party should have their spousal support terminated altogether. According to Section 510 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, there are several factors that would substantially change the circumstance of the receiving party's needs, and therefore a modification or termination of spousal support could be requested. The following are some of the factors that may be considered:
  • Any change in the earning capacity (for example, a change in the employment status) of the individual;
  • Whether the party has become self-supporting;
  • The party's physical or mental impairment has been cured or improved on and requires less financial need;
  • Whether the party is now deceased and therefore no longer needs spousal support; and/or
  • The receiving party is cohabitating with or remarried to another person and therefore no longer requires the support.
Determining that there should be a modification or termination of the alimony payments may be difficult to prove as one has to prove that there has been a “substantial” change in circumstances. Solid evidence may be crucial to showing that there should be a modification or termination of the spousal support because there has been a substantial change. Showing that the spouse has received a promotion, recently has inherited a significant amount of money, or showing that the spouse is cohabiting on a “continuing, conjugal basis” may be the type of evidence to satisfy the threshold. If you are looking to modify or terminate your spousal support payments because you believe that your ex-spouse's circumstances have changed, please contact one of our experienced, Naperville attorneys who will be able to guide you through the process. Please contact us today for further information on child or spousal support.
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