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Naperville divorce modification attorneyThere are many different important decisions made during a divorce, and in many cases, one or both parties may be unhappy with the final divorce decree or judgment. Fortunately, these decisions are not necessarily “set in stone.” If things have changed in your life or your former partner’s situation, or if you need to make adjustments to better meet your children’s needs, you may be able to pursue a post-divorce modification. However, you should be sure to understand what can and cannot be changed and the procedures that you will need to follow when doing so.

Allowed Modifications to a Divorce Order

While there are some parts of your divorce agreement or judgment that may be changed, one issue that cannot be updated after divorce is the division of marital property. Even if you believe that this division was unfair or did not take certain factors into account, you will be unable to reopen that issue and change the decisions that were made.

Other decisions, however, may be modified, but to do so, you will need to show that you, your ex-spouse, or your children have experienced or will experience a “substantial change in circumstances.” These changes could include the loss of a job or a promotion or demotion that has affected one party’s income, or it could involve significant changes in a person’s needs or abilities, such as a medical condition that would cause a parent to be unable to provide care for children. It may be possible to seek a modification of the following issues:

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When Do Spousal Maintenance Payments End?Spousal maintenance, if awarded during a divorce, can last a couple of years to the rest of your life. The duration of your spousal maintenance will rely on several factors, such as:

  • How long you were married;
  • The financial means of the recipient; and
  • Whether you agree to an end-date in your divorce.

New circumstances can also allow the termination of spousal maintenance. Here are five ways that spousal maintenance payments can end:

  1. Automatic Termination: A court that awards spousal maintenance during a divorce has the discretion to determine whether it should be temporary or permanent. Illinois courts normally use the duration of the marriage to determine the duration of maintenance. A table shows how maintenance payments will continue for a period of time that is a percentage of how many years the spouses were married. For instance, maintenance payments will last for a time that is 20 percent of the duration of the marriage if the spouses were married for less than five years. The percentage increases for every two years that they were married. Divorcees who were married for 20 or more years often have permanent spousal maintenance.
  2. Negotiated Termination: Spouses can decide their own termination date for spousal maintenance if they can agree on the payments without needing the court to decide. They can reach this agreement during the divorce negotiations or as part of a prenuptial agreement. The maintenance recipient can also voluntarily terminate the payments as long as they were not coerced into doing so.
  3. Remarriage: Spousal maintenance payments automatically end if the recipient remarries or cohabitates with a partner in a relationship that is effectively a marriage. With cohabitation, you will need to prove that your former spouse is sharing their life and finances with their partner.
  4. Death: Spousal maintenance often ends if either party dies before it is scheduled to be terminated. However, a divorce agreement can stipulate that the payor’s life insurance will continue payments to the recipient after the payor's death.
  5. Change of Circumstances: The payor or recipient can petition to modify spousal maintenance if there has been a significant change of circumstances, such as an increase or decrease in income. In some situations, the court may discontinue the maintenance payments if they are no longer appropriate. These situations may include the recipient increasing their income so that it is equal to or greater than the payor’s income or the recipient not making a good-faith effort to become self-supporting.

Contact a DuPage County Divorce Attorney

Spousal maintenance has become more difficult to negotiate since the alimony tax deduction was eliminated this year. A Naperville, Illinois, divorce lawyer at Calabrese Associates, P.C., can help you, whether you would be the payor or recipient of maintenance. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-393-3111.

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When Can Spousal Maintenance Be Modified?Absent any language stating otherwise, the terms of a spousal maintenance agreement are modifiable when either party has a significant change of circumstances. Examples include a change in:

  • Employment status;
  • Income;
  • Marital status;
  • Tax implications of the agreement; or
  • The value of properties awarded after divorce.

An Illinois court will award modifiable spousal maintenance if the spouses cannot agree to terms during the divorce negotiations. However, divorcing couples can present other forms of maintenance agreements that have different conditions for when the agreement may be modified.

Reviewable Maintenance

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