Temporary Maintenance. Temporary maintenance is available (along with or in lieu of temporary child support or temporary contribution to certain expenses) under Section 501 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. Under Illinois law, the word “temporary” simply means “while the case is still pending.” Since family law cases can sometimes take a long time to work their way through the court system, an award of temporary maintenance can often amount to a substantial sum of money. Typically, temporary maintenance is intended to address short-term needs, rather than long-term needs. For example, temporary maintenance is often sought in cases where one spouse has moved out of the marital home, and the other spouse does not have sufficient funds to pay for household bills while the divorce is pending.
Temporary maintenance may be available during the litigation process even when the circumstances would not otherwise warrant a maintenance award. For example, in a short term marriage where one party is not employed, the court may order temporary maintenance for a few months in order to enable that spouse to obtain employment and the ability to support him or herself. Temporary maintenance is also available in situations in which a long-term maintenance award will be made in the future, but at the present time, discovery has not yet been completed or other issues are left unresolved.
As with the other forms of maintenance, in awarding temporary maintenance, the court has broad discretion in awarding maintenance, but will consider the applicable factors set forth in Section 504 as well as the status quo and apply them as the court deems equitable. The status quo refers to the arrangement immediately prior to the filing of the action. The court may also look at the obligations undertaken during the marriage and the reasons a spouse may no longer be contributing to those expenses. If a spouse stops contributing to household expenses, such as mortgage or rent, utilities, or necessary living expenses immediately prior to or after a divorce action is filed, the court has the authority to order contribution to those expenses as a form of temporary maintenance.
The importance of hiring an effective lawyer cannot be overstated, especially with regard to temporary maintenance. Under certain circumstances, uncontested divorce cases can take a long time to work their way through the courts. If a person is at a significant financial disadvantage during that period of time, it can make a difficult process even more stressful. An effective lawyer may be able to resolve temporary maintenance disputes quickly. Moreover, an effective lawyer will try to resolve temporary maintenance disputes by agreement, perhaps requesting the court’s recommendations on the issue, to avoid the unnecessary time and expense of having a duplicative hearing on the issue. Although temporary maintenance awards are generally made without prejudice to either party and can be modified at a later time, the amount of temporary maintenance can often set the stage for settlement of the issue of long-term maintenance. Hiring the right lawyer to address the issue of temporary maintenance in the early stages of the divorce process can make a big difference in the long term outcome. Contact Kollias & Giese, P.C., to ensure that your interests are adequately represented.