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How Is a Spousal Support Order Enforced in an Illinois Divorce?

 Posted on April 23, 2020 in Family Law

Oak Brook spousal maintenance attorneyAlthough many people do not expect their marriage to end in divorce, statistics show that approximately 40-50 percent of U.S. marriages do not stand the test of time. Regardless of the reasons for wanting to legally end their union, there are many decisions that a couple needs to make before they can finalize their divorce, including the division of property, spousal support, or child-related issues. Under Illinois law, a spouse may ask the court to order the other spouse to pay spousal maintenance (alimony). However, in some cases, the ex-spouse may fail to follow the order. That is why it is important to have an experienced family law attorney help you enforce the order and protect your rights to this type of financial support.

How Are Support Payments Made?

In many divorce cases, one spouse is awarded spousal support to ease the transition to living on one income instead of two. For example, if one partner gave up a career to raise children during the marriage, he or she may be at a disadvantage financially immediately following the divorce. Spousal support is typically meant to last until the spouse obtains employment or becomes self-sufficient. The court may order these payments to be made for a designated amount of time, or in some instances, for an indefinite period. 

Spousal maintenance can be paid in the following ways:

  • Monthly installments

  • Lump-sum amount

  • Made to the clerk of court, who then distributes the money to the supported spouse 

Penalties for Violating a Spousal Maintenance Order

A divorce decree or judgment is legally binding. This means that if either spouse violates the terms of the divorce, he or she can be held in contempt of court in Illinois. This is a serious offense that is punishable by fines and/or jail time. In some cases, the paying spouse may fall behind on payments due to a job loss, or he or she may simply refuse to make the court-ordered payments. If a supported spouse is not receiving his or her payments, he or she can file a contempt of court action against the paying spouse with the help of an attorney. A judge may order that the payor’s wages, bank accounts, or tax returns be garnished to pay both ongoing and past-due support.
In some scenarios, failure to pay spousal support can be charged as a misdemeanor. This occurs when a person intentionally refuses to pay support, fails to pay the obligation for at least six months, or is in arrears of at least $5,000. Punishments may include jail time, fines, and full reimbursement of the support owed with interest.
If an individual leaves the state in order to evade paying support, has intentionally not paid support in at least one year, or owes at least $20,000, then he or she may be charged with a felony.

Contact a Westmont Divorce Attorney

Spousal support is an important issue that must be resolved before a divorce can be finalized. The law firm of Khan Nayyar & Associates has handled many types of divorce cases, and our attorneys understand the importance of maintenance payments. Our distinguished Downers Grove spousal support lawyers will work tirelessly to make sure you receive the financial assistance you need to move on with your life. To schedule your confidential consultation, call our office today at 630-529-9377. 


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