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Can I Get Alimony If My Husband Cheated?

About 6.6 percent of Illinois marriages end in divorce. That is incredibly low given that the national rate is between 40 and 50 percent for couples marrying for the first time.  However, in 2016 in McHenry County alone, there were 1,528 marriages and about half as many divorces at 762.  And the percentage of Illinoisans who get divorced continues to climb.

These marriages end for a variety of reasons, and sometimes marriages fail because one of the parties has an affair. 

The guidelines for determining eligibility for spousal support vary from state to state.

But can you get alimony in Illinois if your spouse cheated? 

From our experienced team of Illinois divorce attorneys at Diamond Divorce, here’s what you need to know.

Alimony (Maintenance) Basics in Illinois

Alimony, often called maintenance or spousal support, is the money one spouse pays the other to ensure financial stability after a marriage ends. The intention of alimony is to make sure that both parties are on about roughly the same economic level and able to enjoy the same standard of living. 

In some situations, Illinois law allows a judge to order one spouse to pay the other spouse support payments during the divorce process, in the final divorce order, or during an appeal filed following the finalization of the divorce. There are four kinds of alimony a/k/a spousal support that can be awarded in the state:

  1. Fixed Term – This is support that is paid for a set timeframe and terminates at the end of the term.
  2. Indefinite or Permanent – This is support that is paid for an unspecified period of time but may be terminated or modified upon certain events.
  3. Reviewable – This is support that is reviewable by the court after a certain period of time or the happening of a specified event.
  4. Temporary – This support is generally awarded during the divorce proceedings to help with living expenses during the divorce.  Temporary support ends when the divorce is finalized.

In addition to the four types of alimony listed above, there are times when the issue of alimony is “Reserved”.  This is when the court reserves the issue of support which may be determined at a future date.

In cases where alimony is awarded, it is always to the lesser-earning spouse. However, if the lesser-earning spouse simply chooses not to work, the court can impute income based on that person’s abilities and skills and the likely availability of work.  Imputing income means that the court assigns a value or calculates what it thinks the lesser-earning spouse should be able to make and takes that into account when determining if alimony should be awarded and the amount that should be given.

Alimony can be complicated, but an Illinois divorce lawyer can help you understand how alimony is determined and if you may be eligible to get spousal support because of your divorce.

Fault and Alimony in Divorce Cases in Illinois

While some states may take fault (such as cheating) into consideration when calculating alimony amounts, that is not the case in Illinois. Under Illinois law, the award of alimony is without regard to marital misconduct.

On the other hand, if the party who is receiving alimony is found to have cohabited with another person on a continuing conjugal basis (living together like husband and wife without getting married) that can be grounds for terminating alimony.

Dividing Marital Property

Similarly, when the court is determining how to divide marital property, it is without regard to marital misconduct or infidelity.

But, if the spouse used marital assets while committing adultery, it can affect the equitable division of marital property. Examples include using funds from a joint (marital) bank account to:

  • Buy jewelry or expensive gifts for a “paramour”; 
  • Take a lover on a fancy vacation while telling the spouse that the trip was for business;
  • Support a mistress (or “manstress”) financially by paying for accommodations, food, etc. to the detriment of the family and family finances. 

The court will take these types of matters into consideration when determining an equitable division of the marital estate.

Determining Alimony

First, the court will need to make a finding as to whether or not a maintenance award is appropriate after consideration of all relevant facts. The type of maintenance the court awards to be paid after the divorce is final will be either a fixed term, indefinite, reviewable or reserved by the court. (Remember, temporary support terminates when the judgment for dissolution is entered.)

It then considers the amount of maintenance to be paid, if any. This amount is based, in part, upon the length of the marriage and the relative economic circumstances of the parties. 

Illinois statutes set forth guidelines for the amount and duration of the maintenance award.  Formulas are used to calculate the amount to be paid taking into account gross income and the number of years the parties were married, although judges do have a certain amount of leeway or flexibility and can deviate from the established formulas if the court feels it is justified.  For marriages lasting 20 years or more, the guidelines state that, in the court’s discretion, the maintenance shall be for the length of the marriage or indefinite. Indefinite means an undetermined date such as a date of death or substantial change of income or circumstances. 

Trying to do the math yourself isn’t easy.  That’s why it is important to work with an experienced divorce attorney who can explain how alimony affects you, how it is calculated and how to get what you deserve.

Contact Diamond Divorce to Schedule Your Consultation

Divorces can be messy, and if your divorce is due to adultery, it can be even more complicated. Our team at Diamond Divorce Law is here to help you through this difficult time as quickly and as painlessly as possible. Contact us today to schedule a case review. 

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