Legal Memorandum: Standard of review and purpose of reviewable maintenance for a dissolution action

Issue: Under Illinois law, what is the purpose of reviewable maintenance in a dissolution action and what is the standard of review applied to such an award?

Area of Law: Litigation Practice & Procedure, Litigation Practice and Procedure
Keywords: ; Reviewable Maintenance; Dissolution Action; Standard of Review; Award; Jurisdiction
Jurisdiction: Illinois
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 03/01/2016

The purpose of reviewable maintenance is to allow the trial court to reserve jurisdiction over an award of maintenance "to encourage a spouse to become self-sufficient while providing the court with an opportunity to review the award at the end of a fixed period to determine what efforts the spouse has made toward achieving this objective and whether those efforts have been successful." In re Marriage of Pearson, 236 Ill. App. 3d 337, 348 (1992).

The Supreme Court has held that, when a marital settlement agreement provides for reviewable maintenance, the party seeking a modification does not bear the burden of proving a substantial change in circumstances to justify modification of maintenance. Blum v. Koster, 235 Ill.2d 21, 35-36 (2009). Instead, the trial court "ha[s] discretion to continue maintenance without modification, to modify or terminate maintenance, or to change the maintenance payment terms." Id. at 36. In exercising its discretion, the court should consider the factors in sections 504(a) and 510(a-5). Id.

A trial court’s modification of maintenance will not be disturbed absent an abuse of discretion. Id. An abuse of discretion occurs when the trial court’s ruling is arbitrary, fanciful, or where no reasonable person would take the view adopted by the trial court. Id.

In re Leventhal, No. 1-14-3221-U 2016.IL.0000306 (Ill. Ct. App. Feb. 11, 2016) (VersusLaw).

Date: March 1, 2016

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