Modifying Maintenance

Modifying a Maintenance Award in Illinois

One common reason for requesting a modification to a Marital Settlement Agreement (“MSA”) is to change or reduce the amount of maintenance (alimony) awarded.  Unless the parties have previously agreed to make maintenance payments non-modifiable, maintenance awards can be modified if the requesting party can demonstrate a substantial change in circumstances.

Maintenance Factors Considered

In determining whether there was a substantial change in circumstances, a court will consider the following factors that are set forth in Section 5/510 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act:

  • any change in the employment status of either party and whether the change has been made in good faith;
  • the efforts, if any, made by the party receiving maintenance to become self-supporting, and the reasonableness of the efforts where they are appropriate;
  • any impairment of the present and future earning capacity of either party;
  • the tax consequences of the maintenance payments upon the respective economic circumstances of the parties;
  • the duration of the maintenance payments previously paid (and remaining to be paid) relative to the length of the marriage;
  • the property, including retirement benefits, awarded to each party under the judgment of dissolution of marriage, judgment of legal separation, or judgment of declaration of invalidity of marriage and the present status of the property;
  • the increase or decrease in each party’s income since the prior judgment or order from which a review, modification, or termination is being sought;
  • the property acquired and currently owned by each party after the entry of the judgment of dissolution of marriage, judgment of legal separation, or judgment of declaration of invalidity of marriage; and
  • any other factor that the court expressly finds to be just and equitable.

Modifications are Retroactive to Date of Filing

If you are suffering financially because you are paying too much maintenance following a decrease in income or require more support, don’t wait to request your modification.  If your request is granted, it will only be retroactive to the date you filed your petition, not the date the change occurred.  For example, if you lost your job on January 1 and waited until August 1 to file a petition to modify, the court can change the amount you owe in maintenance retroactively only to August 1, not January 1.  Therefore, it is important to make your request as early as possible.

Failure to Pay Maintenance

The willful failure to pay maintenance (alimony) can lead to contempt of court, as well as fines and interest.  See our page on maintenance awards here for more information.  If you are not currently paying your maintenance as ordered in your MSA, it is important to seek the advice of a good family law attorney to help you understand your legal options.

Experienced DuPage Attorney on your Side

If you are looking for an experienced litigator in Oak Brook, Naperville, Wheaton, or Chicago, contact us today at (630) 464-6700 and request a maintenance modification consultation.