What You Need to Know About Spousal Support in an Illinois Divorce

 Posted on May 13, 2024 in Divorce Issues

There are numerous financial concerns that will affect you during your divorce. You will need to divide the assets that you and your spouse own together, which may include money you have saved, various types of personal property, your family home, business interests, and retirement accounts. While the distribution of your marital property can have a substantial impact on the financial resources that will be available to you going forward, you may also need to address ongoing concerns about income and expenses. If either you or your spouse may struggle to maintain financial stability, you may need to determine whether spousal support will be appropriate.

Spousal support, which is also known as alimony or spousal maintenance, usually consists of ongoing payments made by one spouse to the other, although it may also take the form of a lump sum payment. This financial support is meant to address economic disparities between divorcing spouses. If you believe that you should receive spousal support, or if your spouse is asking you to make ongoing payments, you can work with an experienced attorney to navigate this issue and determine what arrangements will be fair.

The Purpose of Spousal Support

The primary goal of spousal support is to ensure that both spouses will be able to maintain the standard of living that they came to expect during their marriage. In situations where one spouse earns a substantially higher income than the other or where a spouse has been a stay-at-home parent or has limited work experience, spousal support is meant to account for these disparities and ensure that a person with limited financial resources will be able to meet their ongoing needs.

In general, spousal support may be appropriate in longer marriages where one spouse focused on family responsibilities rather than their career. Because a spouse who has been a homemaker may have limited work experience, they may struggle to support themselves after ending their marriage, and payments from the other spouse may ensure that they can cover their expenses and avoid financial hardship. Spousal support may also be appropriate if there is a significant difference in the incomes earned by spouses or if one spouse will need time to pursue education to ensure that they will be able to support themselves in the future.

Factors Considered When Determining Eligibility for Spousal Support

During the divorce process, a couple may agree on whether spousal support will be paid, or one spouse may request support and ask a family court judge to determine whether maintenance should be awarded. Illinois law outlines several factors that may determine whether spousal maintenance is appropriate, including:

  • Each spouse’s income and assets, including marital property allocated to each spouse, non-marital property the parties own separately, wages each party currently earns, and any other financial resources available to either party

  • Each spouse’s ongoing needs, including expenses such as rent, utilities, transportation expenses, and groceries

  • Each party’s earning capacity, considering their level of education, work experience, current employment, and potential job prospects

  • Any impairment to a spouse’s earning capacity because they have focused on family responsibilities or will be providing the majority of the care for a couple’s children after the divorce

  • The couple’s standard of living while they were married

  • The total amount of time the couple was married

  • The age of each spouse and whether there are any physical or emotional concerns that may affect their needs or employment

  • Any tax consequences that may affect either party due to decisions about property division

  • Contributions one spouse has made to the other’s education, training, or career, such as managing childcare and other household responsibilities while the other spouse attended college or focused on work responsibilities

  • Any agreements made by spouses, including prenuptial or postnuptial agreements that stated whether spousal support would be paid in the event of a divorce or separation

A judge may review all of these factors and any other relevant information to determine whether spousal support will be awarded to one spouse. When negotiating a divorce settlement, spouses may also look at whether these factors may indicate whether spousal maintenance would be likely to be awarded. During their negotiations, they can make decisions about whether spousal support will be paid, the amount that one spouse will pay to the other, and how long the payments will last.

Types of Spousal Support in Illinois

There are several different options for how spousal support may be paid. In Illinois, spousal maintenance may take one or more of the following forms:

  • Temporary maintenance: This form of support may be paid during divorce proceedings, and it will end when the divorce is finalized.

  • Fixed-term maintenance: This is the most common form of spousal support paid after a divorce is finalized. Payments will typically last for a specific period, which will be based on the total amount of time the couple was married.

  • Reviewable maintenance: In some cases, such as when a spouse may need support while they attend college or take steps to pursue employment, support may be paid for a specific period of time, after which the court will review the case to determine whether ongoing payments are necessary or whether support should be terminated or modified.

  • Indefinite maintenance: In some cases, spousal support may not have any end date, and it will be paid throughout the remainder of a spouse’s life. This form of support may be appropriate in cases involving long marriages where one spouse has limited work experience or in situations where a spouse has health issues that prevent them from being able to work and support themselves.

Calculating Spousal Support Payments

Illinois law provides a formula that is used to determine the amount of support that will be paid. Most of the time, if it is determined that spousal maintenance is appropriate, this formula will be used. Payments are calculated by taking one third (33.3%) of the paying spouse’s net income and subtracting one fourth (25%) of the receiving spouse’s net income. The resulting figure will be the amount that one spouse will pay to the other, and payments will typically be made on a monthly basis.

There is a cap on the amount of spousal support that a person can receive. The sum of their income and the support they receive cannot be higher than 40% of the couple’s combined net income. If the support payments calculated using the formula described above would exceed 40%, the amount a person will receive will be reduced.

Contact an Illinois Spousal Support Attorney

Spousal support is meant to ensure fairness in a divorce, providing both spouses with the financial resources to meet their ongoing needs and maintain their standard of living. There are a variety of complex factors that can affect spousal support and other divorce-related issues, making it crucial to have legal representation. Divorcing spouses can benefit by working with an experienced Chicago spousal maintenance attorney who can advise them of their rights, explain how the law will apply in their situation, and advocate for solutions that will protect their financial interests.

Share this post:
  • U.S. Bankruptcy Lawyer Directory
  • Illinois Child Support Calculator
  • Dads Divorce Law
  • Elite Lawyer
  • Illinois Best Legal Websites
  • OVC Chatbox
  • OVC Photography
  • U.S. Personal Injury Lawyer Directory
Back to Top