According to the Black's Law Dictionary, Alimony is a "court-ordered allowance that one spouse pays to the other spouse for maintenance and support while they are: (A) separated, (B) involved in a matrimonial lawsuit, or (C) after they are divorced."
In Illinois, "alimony" is referred to as "maintenance." There are essentially four (4) types of maintenance; they are as follows:
(1) "TEMPORARY MAINTENANCE," is awarded during the divorce proceedings and ends once the divorce is finalized.
(2) "REHABILITATIVE FIXED-PERIOD MAINTENANCE," begins once the divorce judgment is entered and subsequently continues for a specified period of time. This form of maintenance can be modified upon a "substantial change of circumstances." The most typical example of a "substantial change of circumstances" is the payor's "ability to pay." For example, if the paying ex-spouse has a decrease in income, the support obligation will typically be reduced upon petition. Conversely, if the income increases, the support obligation typically increases upon petition.
(3) "REHABILITATIVE MAINTENANCE SUBJECT TO REVIEW" is also award for a fixed/specified period of time. However, upon expiration of the specified time, the Court can extend the maintenance if it concludes that more time is needed to make the supported spouse "self-sufficient." Conversely, if the Court concludes that ex-spouse is rehabilatated or has failed to take proper steps to become self-sufficient, the maintenance terminates.
(4) "PERMANENT MAINTENANCE" continues "indefinitely;" that is, it continues until such time as the Court allows it to be extinguished pursuant to certain statutory factors [such as remarriage of ex-spouse, death of paying spouse, etc.].
As you can see, the stakes are therefore very high in alimony disputes. In terms of duration, one can avoid paying maintenance altogether or be ordered to pay until he/she dies. In terms of amount, the maintenance can be quite modest or massive.
The length and amount of the alimony will largely hinge upon the attorney's knowledge of law, finance, mathematics and accounting. The attorney must be a legal scholar as well as a financial analyst. To illustrate, since the Court is bound to rule based on precedent, it must reach follow how prior courts had ruled when confronted with a given fact pattern. Therefore, the attorney must be able to present the Court with fitting precedent favorable to your position. Furthermore, the attorney must possess a superb understanding of relevant statutes.
If alimony award is inevitable, evidence regarding its amount is introduced. If the attorney represents the spouse seeking alimony, he/she will have to introduce evidence that the amount has been determined in a valid manner and is not excessive. If, on the other hand, the alimony is opposed the objective is to introduce evidence that the ex-spouse is asking too much.
Bottom line, regardless of the side represented, the attorney involved in an alimony dispute must be skilled and comfortable in performing financial analyses. If the attorney is cross-examining an expert witness regarding how he/she calculated the alimony amount, verbal skills alone will make for a loss. The attorney must demonstrate financial mistakes, contradictions and miscalculations--none of these can be derived from the reading of a case. The attorney must possess exceptional analytical skills as well as the ability to process financial/numerical data quickly, efficiently and accurately.
Therefore, we encourage you to take advantage of our attorneys' exceptional background in finance and mathematics. To maximize your chances of success, you need an attorney who can perform calculations on his feet. Whatever your facts, you can rest assured that we will provide the most favorable evidence, law and argument in support of your cause.