Ask A Lawyer: Why Am I Now Required To Pay Maintenance When Not Ordered To?


If spousal maintenance was not ordered in my final decree, how can the judge sign an income withholding order requiring me to pay for it?  Can the judge go back and order spousal maintenance if he had meant to order it but didn’t?  What sort of leeway does a divorce decree have when it is issued? I always thought it had to be in writing.



All court orders have to be reduced to writing to be enforceable and appealable, although an oral order entered on the record may impose obligations on the parties pending the issuance of a formal, written order.  While the initial divorce judgment is commonly referred to as a “final decree”, most divorces are not over until the children and ex-spouse no longer require support, with post-judgment proceedings occurring years after the initial divorce. 


You advise that the Judge entered an order for the spousal maintenance to be withheld from your paycheck.  Since the order was entered by the Judge, and not simply a notice of withholding issued by the court clerk or opposing counsel, it appears either the Judge determined that the original written order was in error or there was a post-judgment proceeding by your ex in your case resulting in a supplemental order. Whether the spousal support order was validly entered in your case requires a review of your divorce proceedings.  You should seek an immediate review of your situation by qualified legal counsel, such as Cordell & Cordell, as there may be deadlines for seeking review or appeal of whatever happened in your case.



Richard Coffee is a Litigation Manager in the Belleville Illinois office of Cordell & Cordell. He is an experienced divorce attorney whose practice is devoted to domestic litigation. He is licensed in the State of Illinois and is admitted to practice law in the U.S. District Courts for Northern, Central and Southern Illinois.

Mr. Coffee has extensive domestic litigation trial experience representing clients in courts throughout Illinois on all aspects of domestic litigation, including the representation of clients who are current or retired military personnel with issues under the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act and the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act, clients involved in state court jurisdictional disputes due to the relocation of one or both parties from or to Illinois, and clients with government or private pension benefit valuation and division issues. 

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