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Protections may help people receiving spousal maintenance

One of the biggest areas of disagreement during divorce in Illinois has to do with alimony, or spousal maintenance. Even if a person ends up receiving spousal maintenance, a challenge may arise if the person paying the spousal maintenance suddenly gets into an accident that keeps him or her from being able to return to work, for example. A few tips may help people seeking spousal maintenance during divorce to financially protect themselves in such a situation.

If the spouse who is paying spousal maintenance is no longer able to pay it or simply decides to stop paying it, the recipient of the spousal maintenance has the right to seek relief via the court system. However, enforcement actions may cost money and take time. Fortunately, certain protections can be put into a divorce agreement for the benefit of the spousal maintenance recipient. One is a provision securing the payments by a recorded security interest against a piece of real property that the paying spouse owns. If the paying spouse does not pay on time, then the security interest could be enforced at a certain default interest rate.

The spousal maintenance recipient could also get a money judgment on any alimony arrears that have occurred in the past, and the parties could even agree to money judgments in the future to cover any unpaid maintenance obligations. The court may further hold individuals in contempt for failing to make required support payments. This might include not just adding interest to any arrears but also actually suspending the paying spouse's driver's license or incarcerating him or her. Emphasizing in the divorce agreement that each payment is enforceable by contempt gives the court more power to impose some stronger sanctions as needed.

Spousal maintenance may be awarded when one party during a divorce has a monetary need and the other one has the ability to pay. Both permanent and temporary support may be available, depending on the length of the marriage and a number of factors to be considered by the court. Once a determination has been made that a party is entitled to spousal maintenance in Illinois, a statutory formula exists to aid judges in setting the designated term and amount for those parties whose combined gross income is less than $250,000.

Source: credit.com, "How to Protect Your Alimony", Rebecca Zung, Nov. 9, 2015

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