The goal of providing spousal support or alimony to a spouse following a divorce is to allow that party to achieve financial independence. It is not unusual for circumstances to occur that change the financial landscape for one or both parties. If you have experienced such changes, know that there are ways to modify or even terminate the support.
Termination of spousal maintenance
As discussed, life changes can prompt the termination of spousal support. In Illinois, there are three occurrences that can qualify for termination of alimony.
- Illinois law provides that the right of a spouse to receive alimony terminates if the spouse cohabitates with another person on a resident continuing conjugal basis. The burden of proving that the recipient is cohabitating is on the petitioning spouse. Since this law does not apply to roommates, the spouse seeking termination of support must provide evidence about the length of time the new couple has been together and how their lives are connected. If the spousal maintenance is terminated, it is final. Even if the cohabitating couple breaks up and no longer lives together, the maintenance cannot be reinstated.
- Spousal maintenance will also terminate if the spouse receiving the payments remarries. If the spouse receiving alimony plans on getting married, they should notify the former spouse a month prior to the marriage so they can file a motion to terminate the spousal maintenance payments. If they do not plan in advance to remarry, Illinois law requires that they notify the spouse responsible for paying alimony within 72 hours of the marriage.
- The death of either spouse will terminate spousal maintenance. The estate of the paying spouse is not responsible to continue making payments. The heirs of the receiving spouse have no rights to continued spousal maintenance payments.
Other factors that can terminate or modify spousal maintenance
Significant changes in employment, financial status or attempts at becoming self-sufficient are all reasons to modify spousal maintenance. If the paying spouse loses their job or is unable to earn at a prior level, they may seek a modification. If the receiving spouse gets a substantial boost in income, this too may be grounds for modification.
If the receiving spouse is not making adequate attempts to be self-supporting, the paying spouse may file for modification or termination. There may be other circumstances that the court feels warrant a modification or termination of maintenance as well, such as tax implications, the amount of time married versus the amount of time spousal maintenance is paid or any other circumstance that the court deems just and equitable.