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  • Writer's pictureLori Hammer

How to Reduce Maintenance, formerly known as Alimony?

Divorce offers opportunities to make a fresh start and improve your life. For help with your divorce, parentage or family law issue in Chicago, call Angela Larimer at 773-370-0600.


Maintenance is the financial support which the court has ordered one party to give to their spouse during the separation period, pendency of the divorce, and/or after the divorce. A husband or wife may qualify for Maintenance, generally, if there is a great disparity in their incomes, a standard of living should be maintained, a spouse has medical issues and cannot work, and/or if the spouse is not working and been a stay at home parent. In order to reduce Maintenance, the payor (person paying maintenance) must petition the court to show a substantial change in circumstances.

With respect to adjusting, reducing, or even terminating Maintenance, there must be significant changes in the financial circumstances of one or both parties. At times, divorce documents may not address the modification or termination of maintenance. The spouse requesting a reduction or complete termination of the Maintenance support must provide evidence for why the changes are necessary and justified. The changes in financial circumstances should be significant if they are expected to be considered and reviewed by the presiding judge.

Some factors which may be considered for reducing Maintenance are (but not limited to) the following:

  • The party paying Maintenance has now experienced a significant wage reduction or complete loss of employment;

  • The party being financially supported is now cohabitating with a new partner and/or they have remarried;

  • The party being financially supported has had an increase in their income;

  • The party paying Maintenance now has a severe illness or disability which hinders them from working the hours maintaining their previous wages or prevents them from working at all;

  • The party paying maintenance has lost his or her job, involuntarily reduced his or her income or is retired and living off the same marital assets that were formerly divided.

Contact a highly qualified attorney to explain the change in circumstances. In some cases, if your ex and you have remained amicable, reaching out to an ex spouse may be the first best step. The ex-spouse might be understanding and might be willing to sign and submit a new agreement with you for a reduction in support payments. In cases where the ex-spouse does not agree, the paying party and their attorney must submit all of the new financial documentation which provides evidence for the significant changes in their finances or the documents, allegations and an affidavit of the alleged changes in the payee (person receiving the maintenance payment). The documentation may include taxes, banking statements, letter of termination of employment, doctors' diagnoses, medical bills, expenses, assets, debts, and more. The receiving party must also provide documentation proving that their financial circumstances have not yet improved and that their marital or cohabitating status has not altered in any way.

Always consult your attorney to advise you on the best approach on how to move forward!

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