How Do I Get Temporary Support Until My Divorce Is Final?

temporary supportDivorce agreements commonly include orders for alimony and/or child support, but the divorce process can take months, or even years, to complete. So what do you do if you can’t wait that long to pay your bills?

Fortunately, you can file a petition for temporary relief. Once the court receives the proper form (which varies, depending on the court), a brief hearing will be scheduled in which you can make your case as to why you need financial assistance now. Under the new amendments passed to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) in 2016, hearing on temporary child support or temporary maintenance (a.k.a. alimony) can be heard on a summary basis, unless one or both parties request a full evidentiary hearing with good cause. A summary hearing means that the Judge will review the parties’ Financial Statements, which must be filed in all divorce cases, and supporting financial documents that are attached to the Financial Statements to make a ruling on temporary support. No testimony is presented during these hearings, but the Judge rather reviews the documents alone. However, if a party wants to present evidence, perhaps to counter the other party’s arguments for support, then an evidentiary hearing may be scheduled in lieu of a summary proceeding.

In any hearing for temporary relief, the judge will first determine whether you should receive any alimony or child support, and if so, how much you will receive. The Judge can also divide the party’s use of and access to assets, such as real estate, cars, and access to bank accounts, all on a temporary basis until the divorce is finalized. The temporary order will likely include a provision that prohibits either party from selling significant financial assets before the divorce has been made final.

If you can’t afford an attorney, you do have the option of filing a petition for temporary relief on your own. Most of the court’s forms can be found online or at your local Family Court. You may file the paperwork yourself and receive a valid order for financial support from a Family Court Judge without having to pay for an attorney, but it is always suggested that you seek legal counsel, as these motions do require a lot of financial documentation as well as submission of various forms and affidavits.

If you and your spouse are still getting along fairly well and they make a verbal promise to continue supporting you, that’s great, but don’t rely on it. Attorneys always recommend you get a promise in writing, especially when your livelihood is at stake. Even the best intentions can go unfulfilled, so don’t rely on a verbal contract alone.

If you and your spouse have managed to reach your own agreement regarding spousal and/or child support, you can request that the Court enter an Agreed Order memorializing these terms. The judge will then review the terms to make sure the agreement is fair to both parties before approving any agreed order.

The process of getting divorced is stressful enough. You don’t need to make it more stressful by wondering how you’re going to pay the bills. Fortunately, the courts recognize this and have put in place systems to help give you one less thing to worry about.

The attorneys at Sherer Law Offices have been providing legal representation for divorce cases for more than 20 years. Our experienced divorce attorneys will take the time to really listen to your unique situation so that they can plan strategies that can best protect your best interests. 


Maintenance and Alimony: What Can I Expect in the State of Illinois?

200420739-001Alimony, spousal support and maintenance all refer to the same thing. They are payments granted to one spouse, paid by the other spouse. As you start the divorce process, it’s necessary to know the basic principles of alimony.

Who is entitled to alimony in Illinois, and what are the criteria for awarding it?

Alimony may be awarded to either spouse. The court does not consider fault or marital misconduct when setting the amount of alimony in Illinois. The court will consider other factors including:

  • Both spouses’ income and property
  • Financial needs of each spouse
  • Preset and future earning potential of each spouse
  • Damage to the earning capacity of the spouse requesting alimony regarding time spent on domestic duties
  • The time it will take the spouse who is seeking alimony to get education or employment
  • The standard of living set during the marriage
  • Length of the marriage
  • Taxes for each spouse due to property division
  • Age and physical and emotional state of both spouses
  • Whether the spouse making the request made substantial contributions to the education and training of the other spouse
  • Any valid agreement between the parties
  • Any other factor the court deem fair or equitable

If both parties can become self-supporting, the court may not award alimony at all, even if one spouse earns considerably more than the other. The court will deal with earning differences by distributing more of the marital property to the spouse that earns the lesser amount of income.

Can I get temporary alimony during divorce proceedings?

Yes, you can. In Illinois, the court won’t usually issue a permanent order of alimony until the divorce proceedings conclude. So what happens if you need financial support while the divorce is still in process? You and your spouse can agree to an amount of temporary alimony. If you can’t agree, a judge can order one spouse to pay temporary alimony. A temporary alimony order usually ends when the final divorce judgment is made.

How long does alimony last?

There are many different types of alimony which have varying time periods. Short-term alimony helps the receiving spouse pay for living expenses while getting an education or employment training in order to become self-sufficient. Longer-term alimony may be ordered for a set time and reviewed again so the court can decide whether it should continue as is or be changed or terminated.

A spouse who receives longer-term alimony will still have to make good faith efforts to become employed and self-supporting. The idea is that alimony will be terminated eventually and not go on indefinitely. However, if a spouse can show a permanent inability to become self-supporting, the court can order the alimony to continue permanently.

Can the alimony schedule or payment amount be changed?

Yes, it can. In Illinois, spouses can agree to make alimony payments modifiable or non-modifiable under special conditions. If they don’t agree to make it non-modifiable, the obligation of payment will end automatically upon the supported spouse’s living with a new partner, remarriage, or death.

To be able to change alimony payments, the spouse asking for the change will have to show a material change in circumstances. This might include a decrease or increase in the ability to pay due to being promoted or losing a job, or a major change in the needs of either spouse. The court will consider all the factors when making a decision.

Will my alimony end if my spouse retires?

This depends on the circumstances of the individual case. Relevant factors like age, health status, motives and timing for retirement, ability to pay alimony after retirement, and the other spouse’s ability to become self-supporting will all be considered. The issue of how retirement will affect alimony should be addressed in the divorce settlement agreement. Then there will be no surprises when the paying spouse retires.

The attorneys at Sherer Law Offices have been providing legal representation for divorce cases for more than 20 years. We will take the time to listen to your concerns and devise resolution strategies that will protect your best interests.

CONTACT Sherer Law Offices to schedule a consultation for your divorce case.


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