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When Can Spousal Maintenance Be Modified?

Posted on in Judgment Modifications

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

Also referred to as rehabilitative maintenance, reviewable spousal maintenance is used when a former spouse needs support until he or she becomes financially self-sufficient. The maintenance can continue indefinitely, but the court must review the agreement after a predetermined amount of time to evaluate the circumstances of both parties. The payments will stop if the court determines that the recipient is now self-sufficient or has not made a good faith effort to become so. The recipient may need to prove his or her attempts at self-sufficiency by explaining:

  • His or her job search efforts;
  • Extenuating circumstances that may have hindered his or her efforts; or
  • How parenting responsibilities may make it more difficult to find employment.

The review is also a chance for the maintenance payer to request a reduction or elimination of the payments by proving a significant change of his or her own financial circumstances.

Non-Modifiable Maintenance

Divorcing spouses can create a spousal maintenance agreement that cannot be modified afterward. The agreement will stipulate the amount and duration of the payments, which even a significant change of circumstances will not alter. This means that the recipient party could remarry and still receive payments for the duration of the agreement. Illinois does not allow courts to award non-modifiable maintenance on their own, but a court can approve such an agreement presented to it.

Maintenance in Gross

Maintenance in gross is another form of non-modifiable spousal maintenance. The payer gives an agreed-upon amount of spousal maintenance in a lump sum or installments. Neither party can modify the lump sum amount after the court approves the agreement, and a significant change of circumstances cannot terminate installments.

Determining Maintenance

It is highly advisable to give yourself the option to review or modify your spousal maintenance agreement after your divorce. A change in economic circumstances may cause you to pay too much or receive too little in maintenance. A DuPage County divorce attorney at Calabrese Associates, P.C., can request a modification to your spousal maintenance agreement. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-393-3111.


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