Understanding the Terminology Surrounding Divorce in Illinois

Posted on in Divorce

Divorce is a state law issue. This is a simple but important distinction to keep in mind when going through divorce in the state of Illinois, as the legal guidelines concerning spousal maintenance and property division may prove different than what you have may have heard about how divorce works under legal frameworks utilized by other states (e.g., California’s “community property” model).

Illinois Uses a Unique and Evolving Set of Terminology in Matters of Divorce

In Illinois, “spousal maintenance” is the official terminology for what is elsewhere referred to as “alimony” or “spousal support.” This somewhat abstracted language pairs with that used by the state with regard to child custody (“allocation of parental responsibility”), asset division (“equitable distribution”), and even the terms concerning the state’s position regarding the issue of fault in the dissolution of a marriage (“irreconcilable differences”).

Maddeningly, the closer you investigate the state’s divorce lexicon, the more circular or abstracted it becomes. “Equitable distribution” does not necessarily translate to “equal,” but rather to “fair and equitable.” “Permanent maintenance” has been reframed as “maintenance for an indefinite term,” though the duration, once determined, may for all practical purposes prove permanent. Divorce is hard enough on former spouses and any children they have, so the state’s arguably confusing language concerning the end of a marriage may seem downright inhumane.

For these reasons, and for the peace of mind that comes with knowing spousal maintenance and asset division are accurately determined and implemented in compliance with the state’s legal guidelines, the knowledge of an experienced divorce lawyer is a valuable resource.

Combined Income and the Duration of a Marriage are Clear Factors in Illinois Divorce

While ascertaining an “equitable distribution” of assets may require extensive tracing of wealth and property (especially in divorces where a large and diverse pool of assets is at issue), the accurate calculation of spousal maintenance is in many cases more straightforward. In matters of maintenance, two factors are primary in nature: 1) the combined gross income of the former spouses, and 2) the length of time the former spouses were married. If the combined gross income is less than $500,000 and the duration of the marriage was 20 years or less, state guidelines make clear the formula for determining the correct amount of spousal maintenance payments and the duration that these payments will be made.

If you need help understanding the financial and legal issues that must be addressed during your divorce, the Law Offices of Nancy Kasko, LLC can answer your questions and protect your rights as you work to complete the divorce process. Contact a Warrenville divorce attorney today by calling 630-836-8540 to schedule a free consultation.