"Maintenance" is what we used to call alimony. The legal term "alimony," however, means something along the lines of "nourishment" or "subsistence" -- something like "enough to keep her alive but not much more." That's the way it used to be: alimony awards were "enough to keep her alive but not much more." Maintenance awards of the 21st century are intended to maintain a financially dependent spouse usually as part of a plan to help facilitate independence. "Maintenance" is much more than "subsistence." If you're facing a case with a maintenance claim, get the word "alimony" out of your vocabulary and start thinking in terms of "maintenance."
When the U.S. economy collapsed in the Fall of 2008, maintenance cases collapsed with it. So many bread-winners were either under-employed or unemployed that it wasn't worth trying to secure maintenance. Thanks to the economic recorvery, however, maintenance claims are making a comeback in Family Court.
Maintenance used to be a bit of a quagmire as the law offered very little guidance and each case was considered on its own facts. Illinois has a new law, however, that went into effect 1 January 2015 that says if there is no prior family situation (i.e. no child support or maintenance issues from a prior marriage) and the couple earns less than $250,000, then the amount and duration of a maintenance award can be determined by a formula. That can greatly reduce the amount of fighting about the issue . . . making many more cases "agreed and uncontested." Application of the formula is not a sure thing, however, and deviations may be generously permitted.
If you're facing financial uncertainty in your new life, or if your spouse claims he or she needs your financial assistance to start anew, call our office to talk with a lawyer who can help protect and secure your future.