If a spouse is ordered to pay Illinois spousal maintenance and loses their job, they may seek a modification of the maintenance obligation based on a substantial change in circumstances. The decision boils down to whether the payor’s unemployment status was voluntary or involuntary, whereas voluntary unemployment must be made in good faith and not in an attempt to avoid the payment of the maintenance obligation.
If the court determines the job loss is legitimate the payor will likely have their obligation reduced, at least until they find a new job and the recipient files a motion to modify maintenance sometime in the future. This is the best case scenario for an unmotivated payor who might be thinking they can fade away without their ex-spouse becoming aware they have resumed employment. How would a recipient know after all?
To encourage the unemployed spouse to seek work in order to resume payments, the courts can ‘reserve on the issue of maintenance’ until the payor secures employment. During the period the maintenance is reserved, the maintenance can be modified or suspended while the party is unemployed. The court can order the payor to provide periodic updates to the court regarding their employment status and determine if they are adequately seeking a job, a measure of protection for the recipient.
Once the payor is re-employed, the court having reserved maintenance jurisdiction, can then adjust maintenance to the appropriate level based on the new job and money owed for any periods a spouse was not paying while employed. They can also make changes based on changes in the recipient’s ability to be self-supporting while their ex-spouse was out of work.
Contact an Experienced Spousal Maintenance Attorney for Help
If you are a recipient of spousal maintenance and your ex-spouse is seeking a modification of the maintenance obligation due to unemployment, it is important to work with an experienced attorney who can ensure that an ex-spouse remains accountable when their situation improves. Contact Attorney Ronald L Bell & Associates PC for more information regarding spousal maintenance in an Illinois divorce today 847-495-6000.