Do You Really Have to Maintain Your Ex’s lifestyle?

A couple signing divorce papers.

If you’re going through a divorce or separation, you may have been warned about having to maintain the lifestyle to which your ex is accustomed. It’s a common concern, particularly in an acrimonious divorce between high-net-worth individuals. The law was originally intended to protect women who had forgone careers in order to raise a family at home. But times have changed. Both men and women can be entitled to some form of financial support. In addition, divorce laws have evolved to ensure the amount and duration of payments are fair to both parties.

In a “no fault” state like Illinois, the division of assets is also handled differently than in the past. For one thing, it means you won’t likely be penalized financially if your ex blames you for ending the marriage. So, how do you know which side of the equation you’re on?

What is Spousal Support (a.k.a. Maintenance or Alimony)?

Alimony, also known as spousal support, refers to financial assistance paid from one spouse to another during and/or after a divorce. Payments can be permanent or temporary, depending on the arrangement made between the two parties. They are typically awarded if one spouse has a significantly lower earning potential than the other. The court may also determine that alimony should be paid if it decides that one party contributed more financially to their marriage than the other did.

Determining the Amount of Spousal Support in Illinois

Many factors go into determining whether someone is entitled to financial support and how much those payments will be. Typically, a judge will consider a wide range of potential contributors to each individual’s financial situation:

  • Existing spousal agreements such as prenups
  • Any sources of income
  • Current and future earning potential
  • Division of household duties
  • Time and money needed to get a job or professional training
  • Length of marriage
  • Marital lifestyle
  • Other needs and conditions

If you’re worried about footing the bill for your ex’s fancy outfits and exotic vacations, understand that is not the intention of the law. More often, an agreement will reduce the financial impact on the parties who can’t support themselves on their income alone and help people get back on their feet after a divorce. But those payments may decline over time and eventually be terminated. This formula outlined by Illinois Legal Aid can give you a sense of what the outcome in your case might look like.

How Your Division of Assets or Property Might Play a Role

The legal division of assets and property can play a significant role in determining how much financial support someone will receive after a divorce. Assets such as cars and homes must be divided equitably between both spouses according to state law and what was agreed upon prior to filing for divorce (if applicable). If one spouse has significantly more assets than the other does at the time of divorce, then they may have an obligation to provide additional funds in order for both parties to live comfortably after separation. Additionally, any retirement savings accumulated during marriage can be divided equitably between both spouses before finalizing a divorce settlement agreement.

Will You Owe Spousal Support?

Since so many variables can impact these types of decisions, it is important to consult with an attorney specializing in family law before making any final determinations about financial payments. A legal expert can also let you know whether support payments can be modified if a person’s situation changes – for instance, if they get a new job or move in with their new significant other – and how to instigate any modifications.

Consult a Family Lawyer About Asset Division & Other Financial Impacts

Going through a divorce can be an emotionally trying time for both parties. Determining whether or not you will need to maintain your ex’s lifestyle afterward can be complicated, depending on numerous circumstances and individual factors. To handle this stage properly, it is important to understand all of your rights and obligations under state law, a process that will require some form of legal support.

At the Law Office of David A. King, P.C., we are skilled in handling all types of maintenance, alimony and spousal support cases. We can assist you by creating a support agreement that works in your best interests. Contact our office for a free consultation.


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