Whether you refer to it as alimony, spousal support or maintenance, they all refer to the same thing in Illinois – they refer to the temporary or permanent payments a person makes to their former spouse after a divorce to ensure the receiving party can have the tools to maintain a financial lifestyle similar to that which they had while they were married. In Illinois, the term alimony no longer technically exists under the law. It’s actually referred to as spousal maintenance, so that’s how we’ll refer to it as in today’s blog. Below, we look into some of the factors that influence the amount of spousal maintenance paid, and we answer some frequently asked questions.
How Is Spousal Maintenance Awarded in Illinois?
Awarding spousal maintenance to one party after a divorce isn’t a black and white issue. The court will look into a number of factors to determine if one party is eligible to receive maintenance. The list of factors the court will consider include:
- The income and property awarded to each party during the divorce, as well as the non-marital property awarded to the spouse requesting alimony.
- The financial needs of each spouse in order to maintain a lifestyle similar to what they had when married.
- The ability or inability of the spouse requesting alimony to gain employment after the divorce. For example, if Jenny and Brad were married for 20 years and Jenny was a stay-at-home Mom for all those years, she would likely have some difficulty re-entering the workplace at a pay level similar to that of her household when she was married. The court will also consider the decision to delay potential earnings, like putting off college or career opportunities, while married.
- Similarly, the court will consider the current and future potential earning capacity of each spouse.
- The time and money it would take for the souse requesting maintenance to obtain training and employment necessary to become self-supporting.
- The standard of living that was established during the marriage.
- The length of the marriage.
- The age, as well as the emotional and physical health of both spouses.
- The tax consequences of the marital property division.
- To what extent the spouse requesting maintenance made contributions to the other spouse’s career, training or education.
- Any other relevant factors or arguments presented by either party.
Frequently Asked Questions About Spousal Maintenance
Here are some answers to some common questions about spousal maintenance.
Is Spousal Maintenance guaranteed if one party makes more than the other?
No, some parties enter an agreement on their own after a divorce to avoid spousal maintenance, even if they earn different amounts. Furthermore, the court may deny it or only offer it as a temporary option to one spouse even if they make less. In the majority of cases maintenance is viewed as a way to become financially dependent, not as a lifelong source of income.
Can either party request maintenance?
Yes, either spouse can request maintenance from their ex-spouse, although it may not always be granted.
Can maintenance be revised?
Yes, if the party receiving support remarries or begins earning more, or the payer runs into financial trouble, spousal maintenance can be altered by the court.
What happens if the party paying maintenance retires?
When this happens, the court looks at a number of factors to determine if maintenance should remain as is, be reduced or eliminated altogether. Factors include whether or not the retirement was voluntary, how sustainable payments will be when income ends, and how the reduction or cease in payments would affect the other party.
For more information on spousal maintenance, or to talk to an attorney about your options during a divorce, contact us today.