Is Alimony/Spousal Support Mandatory in Illinois?

When you make the decision to get a divorce, there are usually a lot of uncertainties. You may not know who will get the house, how custody will be decided, or even how long it will take. If you earn less than your soon-to-be-ex, you may also be wondering if you will get alimony.

Known as maintenance in Illinois, alimony may be awarded temporarily or long-term. It is not mandatory. Instead, it is based on one spouse’s needs and the other spouse’s ability to pay spousal support.

At Manassa Law, we represent individuals in all types of family law cases, including divorce in Illinois. We work hard to protect our client’s interests and achieve their goals in an efficient, cost-effective way. Reach out to our law office today to schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team.

When Is Spousal Support Awarded in an Illinois Divorce?

In Illinois, alimony is not automatic. Instead, a judge will make a decision about whether spousal support is appropriate based on the parties’ circumstances.

There are two types of alimony. First, a court may order one spouse to pay temporary spousal support during the divorce process. Either party may file a petition to request temporary alimony and must present evidence to support their request for maintenance.

Second, long-term spousal support may be awarded as part of a divorce decree. The court will decide whether spousal support is appropriate based on a number of factors, such as

  • Each party’s income
  • The needs of each party
  • The realistic earning capacity of each party
  • Any impairment of earning capacity by a party who gave up job opportunities or education to take care of domestic duties
  • The standard of living during the marriage
  • The duration of the marriage

These are just some of the factors that a judge will consider when deciding if spousal support is appropriate. Typically, spousal support is awarded when there is a significant income gap between the two parties and there is a reason why the party requesting alimony won’t be able to earn as much as the other party. For example, if one spouse quit their job to raise the kids so that the other spouse could advance in their career and is now having difficulty finding a job, then a court may find that alimony is appropriate.

There are three types of long-term spousal support: 

  • Fixed-term maintenance involves regular payments for a set period of time. Once the termination date for alimony has been reached, the party receiving alimony is no longer eligible for support.
  • Indefinite maintenance is awarded to one spouse for an unspecified period of time. Alimony payments will only terminate or be modified if there is a substantial change in circumstances.
  • Finally, reviewable maintenance is an award that may be revisited at a later time. At this time, the court may modify or terminate the spousal support.  

A court will decide which type of alimony to award based on the specific facts of the case.  

How Much Alimony Will I Receive?

The amount of spousal support that you will receive – or pay – depends on whether the court awards guideline maintenance or non-guideline maintenance.  In most cases, guideline maintenance is awarded. As long as the gross annual income of the parties is under $500,000 and the person paying does not have to pay alimony or child support from another relationship, the court will award guideline maintenance.

To determine guideline maintenance, the court will calculate 33.3% of the payor’s net annual income, and then subtract 25% of the receiving spouse’s net annual income. When the guideline maintenance amount is added to the payees annual net income, that combined amount cannot exceed 40% of the parties combined annual net income. Once the court has the alimony amount, it uses a formula to determine how long the payor has to pay alimony. If the marriage lasted 20 years or longer, then the court can order alimony for a period equal to the length of the marriage or for an indefinite term.

Non-guideline maintenance is not based on a formula. A judge must issue a written order explaining why they are departing from the guidelines, as well as the amount and duration of the maintenance.

Figuring out how much maintenance you are owed (or that you owe) and the appropriate type of alimony can be complicated. A skilled Barrington, IL divorce attorney can work with you to help you understand how Illinois law impacts spousal support in your case – and to help you achieve the best possible outcome for your case.

Talk to a Barrington Divorce Lawyer Today

Getting divorced can be incredibly difficult, even before you consider the financial aspects of the arrangement.  Whether you are entitled to spousal support or are concerned that you will be required to pay support, our law firm can help. We will work with you to understand your needs and help you get the optimal result.

Manassa Law represents individuals and families in all types of Illinois family law matters, including divorce, child custody and support, and alimony. In each case, we use our knowledge of Illinois law and our training in collaborative divorce practices to help our clients thrive.  To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, give our law office a call at 866-298-1466 or fill out our online contact form.

Related: The Pros and Cons of Separation vs. Divorce

Larry Manassa
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