Family law guidelines are continually evolving to meet the needs of contemporary families across the state of Illinois and the entire country. State policies regarding the award of alimony in divorce, for instance, have changed significantly in a relatively short amount of time to reflect the fact that an increasing number of spouses across the country make comparable incomes. And while general guidelines do exist to determine spousal support, it is interesting to note the past and potential future of alimony.
The American Bar Association offers interesting insight into the cultural and legislative factors that have helped to define, and redefine, alimony. According to the ABA, several waves of legislation have occurred in recent history to distinguish modern "maintenance" from traditional alimony. The second wave of legislation resulted in rehabilitative alimony, which is commonly implemented today. Rehabilitative alimony relies on several factors to determine the appropriate amount of maintenance that an ex-spouse should be entitled to following divorce. Therefore, support payments are based on considerations that are specific to each case, and are often influenced by the testimony of experts.
Rehabilitative alimony arose out of the first wave of legislation to modernize alimony. The Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act implemented several key concepts that would forever alter the way alimony is understood and determined. For one thing, the ABA notes that the introduction of the no-fault divorce encouraged equality between divorcing parties, and significantly undermined the assumption of employment disparity between spouses. The language of the legislative act also allowed for a great deal of interpretation when determining alimony.
Many legal experts agree that alimony will continue to evolve in the future. The ABA Journal explores current trends in determining spousal support, and describes the attempts that groups like the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers are taking to standardize the process. For now, it seems that the fluid nature of alimony allows for a great deal of personalization when it comes to applying guidelines to specific cases.