Many women in the workforce today have vastly different perspectives about their role in the family than their mothers and grandmothers had. This is because of society's changing expectations for women and their careers. In prior generations, most married women worked part-time, if at all, while raising children and managing the household. But since the rise of second wave feminism in the 1970s, more and more women seek higher education and full-time careers. In some families, wives earn more money than their husbands and shoulder the majority of the responsibility of supporting the household.
When the traditional structure of male breadwinner/female homemaker is inverted, questions about spousal maintenance can arise if the couple decides to file for divorce. Spousal maintenance, also known as alimony, was created to give the lesser-earning spouse a financial safety net following their divorce. This was almost always the wife, who sacrificed her career by taking less time-consuming positions or opting out of the workforce altogether to devote herself to raising the couple's children. Today, with many husbands taking on this role instead, some are opting to ask for spousal maintenance payments from their former wives during the divorce process.
How is Spousal Support Calculated?
A number of factors come into play when the court decides an appropriate amount of spousal support to award to an individual. The statutes that govern this process are contained in Section V of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. Every couple's circumstances are unique, and there is no uniform spousal maintenance package that can fit every family. The following factors are taken into consideration during this process:
- How long the couple was married;
- Both spouse's financial needs;
- Each spouse's income, assets, and potential future income;
- The length of time and monetary commitment that the lesser-earning spouse realistically requires to become self-sufficient, either through higher education or trade school and a subsequent job search;
- Both parties' ages and health status;
- The professional sacrifices each partner made for the sake of their marriage (Did one partner take a considerably less stressful career path so he or she could focus on raising their children? Did either party opt to put his or her career on hold so his or her spouse could pursue their goals?); and
- Any history of domestic violence that occurred during the marriage.
Every divorcing couple has different answers for these questions. If you are considering asking for spousal maintenance from your former spouse or you think you will be asked to make these payments, discuss your concerns with a trusted divorce attorney prior to starting the divorce process. It's important to understand the divorce process and feel secure in your position before the proceedings begin. Remember, there is no shame in asking for spousal maintenance if you are male. If you sacrificed your earnings for the good of your family, you could be entitled to this support.
Call a Divorce Attorney to Learn More About Spousal Maintenance
If you are going through the divorce process or considering filing for divorce in the near future, call Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. at 630-472-9700 for your free consultation. You'll be able to discuss the specific details of your case with one of our firm's experienced Oak Brook divorce attorneys. Our firm proudly serves families in DuPage County and will give your case the dedication and attention to detail it deserves. Don't wait to make that call – call today to learn more about your rights and legal options.