In Illinois, either spouse may ask the court to award temporary alimony, called maintenance, during the divorce. Temporary maintenance may be granted regardless of whether the receiving spouse was at fault in the divorce. Illinois courts consider many factors in deciding to make a temporary award, and Illinois law grants courts great flexibility in deciding amount, length of obligation and payment method.
When the family's primary provider moves out of the marital home and files for divorce, Illinois courts may decide to award temporary maintenance to the other spouse to help with daily household and divorce litigation expenses. They may also award temporary maintenance to the spouse retaining residential custody of any minor children, and to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage for both the receiving spouse and children.
Factors Illinois courts consider when deciding awards of temporary maintenance include the income, property and earning capacity of both spouses; standard of living created during the marriage; duration of the marriage; needs of any minor children; whether one spouse contributed to the education and earning capacity of the other; and whether one spouse forewent a career in order to manage the home. Illinois courts do not consider fault when determining temporary maintenance.
Requesting Temporary Maintenance
Once a divorce action is filed, either spouse may file a motion asking the court to grant temporary maintenance during the divorce proceeding. Illinois law requires the petition be filed with an affidavit describing why the requesting spouse needs the maintenance. After the motion and affidavit are filed, copies must be mailed or delivered to the other spouse, who then has 21 days in which to file a response. After the 21-day response window closes, the court typically schedules a hearing.
At hearing, the court elicits testimony from both spouses as to their respective financial situations, standard of living, household contributions and any of the other previously listed factors the court considers relevant. The court weighs this information within the context of the requesting spouse's need and the other spouse's ability to pay. It also takes into consideration any agreements between the spouses. It then crafts a temporary maintenance arrangement it considers fair for the duration of the divorce litigation.
Effect on Permanent Maintenance
Illinois courts calculate and award temporary maintenance for the duration of the divorce litigation only. Award and calculation of permanent maintenance after the divorce is final is an entirely separate matter that considers longer-term need and ability to pay. In Illinois, temporary maintenance orders end when permanent maintenance is ordered at the end of the divorce. However, any unpaid amounts owed to the receiving spouse under the temporary order remain due and enforceable by the court. Awards of interim attorneys fees and court costs awarded during the divorce do not diminish any final award of fees and costs made in the final decree.