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IL Divorce: What is a substantial change in circumstances to modify a support/maintenance order

In Illinois, under Section 510 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (the "IMDMA"), a party can modify a support or maintenance order if there is a "substantial change of circumstances."

But what is a "substantial change of circumstances?" Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. Some examples might be if you or your ex won the lottery, if you lost your job, or if you are diagnosed with a serious disease or disability. The court will consider the facts of your case, and in particular the court will consider the following:

(1) any change in the employment status of either party and whether the change has been made in good faith;

(2) the efforts, if any, made by the party receiving maintenance to become self-supporting, and the reasonableness of the efforts where they are appropriate;

(3) any impairment of the present and future earning capacity of either party;

(4) the tax consequences of the maintenance payments upon the respective economic circumstances of the parties;

(5) the duration of the maintenance payments previously paid (and remaining to be paid) relative to the length of the marriage;

(6) 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;

(7) 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;

(8) 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

(9) the income and property of each party, including marital property apportioned and non-marital property assigned to the party seeking maintenance; (10) the needs of each party; (11) the present and future earning capacity of each party; (12) any impairment of the present and future earning capacity of the party seeking maintenance due to that party devoting time to domestic duties or having forgone or delayed education, training, employment, or career opportunities due to the marriage; (13) the time necessary to enable the party seeking maintenance to acquire appropriate education, training, and employment, and whether that party is able to support himself or herself through appropriate employment or is the custodian of a child making it appropriate that the custodian not seek employment; (14) the standard of living established during the marriage; (15) the duration of the marriage; (16) the age and the physical and emotional condition of both parties; (17) the tax consequences of the property division upon the respective economic circumstances of the parties; (18) contributions and services by the party seeking maintenance to the education, training, career or career potential, or license of the other spouse; (19) any valid agreement of the parties; and (20) any other factor that the court expressly finds to be just and equitable.

Given the number of factors and the typically contested nature of these proceedings, I recommend your obtain an attorney working in this area to help you. As always, if you find this legal guide to be of assistance, let me know by clicking the thumbs up below.

Andrew Hawes

George Pecherek & Associates, P.C.

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