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Alimony

Divorces are painful enough. Don’t let financial security become more difficult than it has to be with an alimony lawyer from Merel Family Law.

A brighter financial future begins with a confidential, straightforward conversation.

Merel Family Law: Our seasoned alimony lawyers, your peace of mind

Let’s face it, divorces often determine financial futures and can be particularly devastating and unfair to lower-wage- or non-wage-earning spouses. If your case is handled incorrectly, you’ll likely move on with long-lasting emotional and financial trauma that will unfairly diminish quality of life.

But it doesn’t have to be this way… and we’re here to help.

Alimony – also known as spousal maintenance in Illinois – is typically granted to spouses who would otherwise be unable to continue the lifestyle they were accustomed to during their marriage after their divorce. Ideally, both spouses can move on with as little disruption to their lives as possible. But arriving at fair and equitable financial support agreements can often be messy and complicated. That’s why you need experts by your side. The alimony lawyers at Merel Family Law will work tirelessly to ensure that your financial future is sound, whether that’s achieved through settlement outside of court, mediation or litigation.

Let us help you secure the financial stability you deserve.

Complete the form below to set up a consultation with an alimony lawyer. Our team of experienced spousal support lawyers is here for you. Need quick answers? Call us at (312) 408-7000.

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Why Trust Merel Family Law to Handle My Alimony Case?​

Our clients are the type of people who demand and deserve world-class legal representation, and they won’t settle for anything less. So, we do our homework, stay on top of changes and emergent issues, prepare for every scenario, collaborate when it makes sense and fight like hell when it doesn’t. 

We work just as hard to keep it. Our team of seasoned attorneys has worked diligently to help earn the respect of our Chicago-area colleagues, clients, judges, court systems and community, and we intend to keep it that way. In other words, our reputation speaks for itself.

All divorces are unique, and while we prefer to approach our clients’ cases in a spirit of collaboration and negotiation, we are also not afraid to “take the gloves off” when needed. In other words, our clients’ answer to the question, “What does winning look like to you?” informs our strategies, tactics and tone. 

You’ll have peace of mind knowing we will never push you into a lengthy, costly and unnecessary court trial. However, we will use all legal remedies to protect your rights.

Our seasoned attorneys have specific expertise in cases involving women, LGBTQ+ couples, fathers, high-net-worth individuals, dissolution of long-term marriages, spouses who own businesses, appeals and more. We’ll ensure you’re represented by an experienced attorney who understands and respects your situation, the law and how best to work through your unique challenges. 

Unlike other law firms, we know how important it is to manage our client’s expectations and be available to answer their questions and concerns outside of regular business hours. You can contact us by phone, text, or email around the clock. 

Schedule an appointment at any one of our four in-person offices in Chicago, Hinsdale, Skokie and Highland Park, or conduct some or all of your alimony proceedings online via Zoom.  In some instances, an in-court appearance may be required by the judge. If so, you’ll typically be given at least 30 days advance notice. 

"They had an arsenal of experts to support my case."

Our 4-Step Process

What to Expect from Our Spousal Support Attorney Team and the Distribution Process

Step 1: Contact us by phone (312-408-7000) or email. Our intake coordinator will ask a few simple – and completely confidential – questions to connect you with the right lawyer. Depending on your schedule, your initial consultation could be scheduled as soon as the same day. 

Step 2: Consult with your attorney. During your initial conversation with your spousal support attorney, you’ll be asked to share all aspects of your situation, including finances, property, businesses and children.

Step 3: Pay the retainer fee & legal process begins. All alimony cases are different – some are easy and straightforward, others are extremely complex and most are somewhere between. We will use this type of criteria to assess your retainer fee amount.

Step 4: Your divorce attorney will determine, communicate, and execute your case strategy. Initially, this could include providing your original maintenance judgement, your MSA and financial information. After that information is assessed, the opposing party will be alerted and you will enter the mediation or litigation phase.

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More Services to Navigate Financial Legal Matters

Establishing financial responsibility and ownership during a separation can be complicated both legally and emotionally. Expert legal advice will help you settle any dispute in a fair and favorable way. Aspects of negotiating marriage finances [link to marriage finances landing page] can include alimony, property division, child support, college expenses, and debt separation. Our attorneys are well-versed in fighting for your best interests in and out of the courtroom and coming to a resolution you are happy with.

In the state of Illinois, the principle of equitable distribution is used to divide marital assets during a divorce. This implies that rather than an equal 50/50 split, the court divides the assets in a fair and just manner. The process of property division can often lead to significant disagreements during divorce proceedings. That’s why it is crucial to have a seasoned divorce lawyer by your side to safeguard your assets and ensure you receive an equitable division.

Court orders for spousal support are taken very seriously by the state of Illinois. When a spouse is struggling to receive required alimony payments, it is vital that the law steps in to enforce payment. Penalties against the delinquent spouse can include:
  • Being found in contempt of court
  • Paying for opposing counsel court costs
  • Extending duration of maintenance payments
  • Garnishment of wages
  • A lien placed on their property
  • Incarceration to encourage compliance with the support order

Dissolving a marriage or civil partnership is complex, stressful, and emotionally taxing. Our skilled and assertive divorce lawyers at Merel Family Law are committed to providing you with unwavering support throughout the process. As our valued client, we pledge to give you top-notch representation and ensure constant availability for any questions or concerns you may have.

Your child’s age and the stage of your divorce proceedings will play a significant role in addressing college expenses. Generally, child support concludes when the child reaches 18 years old, but court orders can extend a parent’s child support responsibilities to encompass college costs. Engaging a mediator can be beneficial as they serve as an impartial third party, helping to figure out each parent’s contribution towards their shared child’s education. It is important to get on the same page as your child’s other parent to set a smooth process and well-defined expectations.

Feel at Ease With an Experienced Alimony Lawyer

At Merel Family Law, our aim is to simplify the divorce and alimony calculation process for you. This begins with arranging a consultation with our knowledgeable intake coordinators. Next, our team of alimony lawyers will offer the necessary support to guide you through the intricacies of spousal maintenance negotiations.

The Spousal Maintenance Process & Alimony Lawyers

Frequently Asked Questions

The court will consider these factors to calculate alimony:

  • Income, assets, and debts of each party
  • Current and future income-earning capacity of each party
  • Constraints on earning capacity like lack of education
  • Duration of marriage
  • Standard of living during the marriage
  • Child custody and parenting time arrangements
  • Age and health of each party

In Illinois, alimony is calculated using a specific formula that subtracts 25% of the payee’s net income from 33.3% of the payor’s net income. However, the recipient cannot receive more than 40% of the household’s net income. This formula applies to couples with a combined gross income of up to $500,000 per year. If the combined income exceeds this amount, the courts have discretion in determining the alimony. For example, if the payer spouse earns $100,000 a year and the recipient earns $40,000, the yearly maintenance would be $23,000, which is less than 40% of their combined income. Need more information? Try our Illinois spousal support calculator to calculate alimony.

  • Temporary: This type of spousal support provides for the living costs of spouses living separately during divorce proceedings and ends once the divorce is finalized.
  • Fixed-term: This spousal maintenance is time-bound and typically used when one spouse needs to regain financial independence, such as through completing an educational course.
  • Reviewable: This form of support is similar to fixed-term but involves a court review to ensure its continued appropriateness, with the possibility of cancellation, modification or continuing the support as ordered.
  • Permanent: This order requires lifelong monthly payments from the paying spouse to the receiving spouse, typically applicable for marriages lasting 20 years or more.  While codified as permanent maintenance, it should be viewed more as indefinite maintenance than permanent, as it can be modified or terminated upon a substantial change in the circumstances of the parties.
  • Lump-sum: This is a one-time maintenance payment which covers the entire maintenance obligation, typically paid upon entry of a divorce decree.

In Illinois, spousal maintenance is meant to make sure both parties can bounce back financially after a divorce. Alimony aids the lesser-earning spouse to ensure they maintain their standard of living while seeking employment or education. This support is only applicable to married couples and does not apply in cases of breakups or to children.

Yes, a spousal maintenance order can terminate automatically if one of the spouses passes away, the receiving spouse remarries/cohabitates with a new significant other or if the maintenance order is completed.

In every case, it takes a village. We have a full-service staff and a large team of attorneys to help with your situation. We use a variety of attorneys, both partners and associates alike, to resolve your case and keep costs down.

This is the million-dollar question, but honestly it depends on your case. Less contentious cases will incur fewer fees, and more complex cases that need more work or litigation from attorneys and staff will incur more. Retainers vary based on the type and scope of your case.

A retainer is an initial deposit required by attorneys and other professionals to commence representation. The retainer covers fees (billed based on hourly rates) and expenses. If the retainer is used up, the client will be responsible for any additional fees incurred beyond the retainer. If the case is finalized and a portion of the retainer is unused, that portion will be refunded back to the client.

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