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Divorce on Unequal Economic Footing

 Posted on June 20, 2024 in Divorce

IL divorce lawyerFinancial concerns prevent a lot of lower-earning spouses and homemakers from seeking the divorce they want. If you are financially dependent on your spouse, you might be worried about what would happen to your lifestyle - or even your ability to meet your basic needs - if you got divorced. Stay-at-home parents might have additional concerns about how their earning capacity might impact child custody decisions. Illinois offers legal protections for spouses who would be at a financial disadvantage during divorce. While you should discuss your concerns with a qualified Naperville, IL divorce attorney, you should also know that your individual finances are unlikely to be the barrier to divorce you think they are.

The Law Says You Contributed to Your Spouse's Earnings

Illinois’s marital property statute considers almost everything either spouse acquires while he or she is married to be marital property. This includes each spouse’s income and anything that income is used to purchase. Your spouse cannot argue that because his or her earnings were used to buy certain things, those things belong to him or her.

Under Illinois law, you contributed to your spouse’s earning capacity in some way, whether by providing moral support and encouragement, by taking care of the household and children so he or she could focus on a career, or by making sacrifices in your own career to further your spouse’s.

You Could Receive Spousal Maintenance 

The longer you were married and the less able you were to support yourself, the more likely you were to qualify for substantial alimony payments. Because you made contributions to your spouse’s career, the state would consider it drastically unfair for you to suddenly find yourself in a position where you could not meet your basic needs or maintain your lifestyle because you chose not to stay married.

Child Support and Fairness in Custody Decisions

How much each parent earns is not one of the many factors Illinois courts consider when making child custody decisions. Each parent’s ability to meet the needs of the children is a factor, and certainly, having the financial means to care for the children is part of this. However, this is where child support comes into play. The court can consider not only your personal earnings but also the child support and alimony you would be able to collect if you got a majority of the parenting time. It may even help your child custody case if you stay home to act as your children’s primary caregiver.

Contact a Naperville, IL Divorce Lawyer

Calabrese Associates, P.C. is skilled in helping lower-earning spouses and homemakers get divorced without sacrificing their lifestyles. DuPage County, IL divorce attorney Michael J. Calabrese is a former chair of the DuPage County Bar Association Family Law Committee. Contact us at 630-393-3111 for a confidential consultation.

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