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Spousal Support

What is Spousal Support in Illinois?

Alimony, often called maintenance or spousal support, is the funding one spouse provides the other to ensure financial stability following a divorce. The object of alimony is to best endeavor to cause  both parties to be on roughly the same economic level and able to enjoy the same standard of living.

In some situations, a judge may 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 (also know as spousal support) that can be awarded:

  1. Fixed Term – This support is paid for a set timeframe and terminates at the end of that timeframe.
  2. Indefinite or Permanent – This support is paid for an unspecified period of time but may be terminated or modified upon certain events.
  3. Reviewable – This support is reviewable by the court after a certain period of time or upon 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 spousal support listed above, there are times when the issue of spousal support is “Reserved”.  This is when the court reserves the issue of support which may be determined at a future date.

When spousal support 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 earn and takes that into account when determining if spousal support should be awarded and, if so, the amount. 

Spousal support can be complicated, but an Illinois divorce lawyer can help you understand how spousal support is determined and whether you may be eligible to receive spousal support.

While some states may consider fault (such as cheating) when calculating spousal support, that is not a consideration in Illinois. Under Illinois law, the award of spousal support is determined without regard to marital misconduct.

On the other hand, if the party who is receiving spousal support 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 spousal support.

Spousal support is financial assistance that one spouse provides to the other following the dissolution of the marriage. This financial support is intended to help the dependent spouse obtain some independence and is usually temporary.

Unlike property division and child custody, spousal support is not a mandatory component of divorce proceedings, but it is an important consideration in many divorces.

How Is Spousal Support Calculated?

In Illinois, there are a series of factors to be considered by the court when determining whether or not there is a need for spousal support.

These factors include:

  • Each spouse’s individual income
  • Child support obligations
  • Alimony payments from prior marriages
  • Length of the marriage
  • Age and health of each spouse
  • Standard of living during the marriage

If spousal support is deemed necessary there are guidelines to be considered by the court. These guidelines deal with the calculation of support based on the income of each of the parties as well as how long the payments will be made. If the marriage is less than 20 years, the guidelines are based on a percentage of the years married. If the marriage is over 20 years, maintenance payments would be indefinite but possibly modifiable or terminable upon a substantial change in circumstances.

There is a difference between child support and spousal support. If the parties decide they don’t want spousal support, it can be waived. However, the court will not allow child support to be waived. The court will take a serious look at any arrangement for child support that is not following the guidelines.

Navigating issues of spousal support (maintenance) can be confusing. The good news is that a qualified local family law attorney should be able to help you navigate this minefield of issues.

Diamond Divorce Law is Here for You

If you are considering a divorce, then you retain a trusted legal advice that can make an already painful process easier. Contact the divorce lawyers at Diamond Divorce Law for a free consultation.


DISCLAIMER: Any information contained herein is solely for informational purposes. While it is important that you educate yourself, nothing herein should be construed as legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. For specific questions, I always urge you to contact a local attorney for advice pertaining to your specific legal needs.

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