Is Alimony/Spousal Support Mandatory in Illinois?

Is Alimony/Spousal Support Mandatory in Illinois?

When facing the difficult decision to pursue a divorce, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed by uncertainties. You might wonder who will get the house, how child parenting will work, or how long the legal process will take. Another important question might be:

  • If your income is less than your spouse’s, are you eligible to receive financial spousal support? 
  • If you earn substantially more than your spouse, will you be required to pay spousal support? 

In Illinois, spousal support payments between divorced spouses are called spousal maintenance. In the past, alimony was also a common term used to refer to these court-ordered obligations. Determining whether maintenance will be awarded and what amount is complicated. An experienced Alimony or Spousal Support Attorney in Barrington, Illinoiscan be a valuable ally when you are facing a maintenance dispute.

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

Is Spousal Maintenance Required in Illinois?

In Illinois family courts, a maintenance award isn’t mandatory or guaranteed. It’s based on the needs of the requesting spouse and the other spouse’s ability to provide support, whether short-term or long-term. 

The court’s first step when deciding whether spousal support will be ordered is to determine whether the person seeking the support is entitled to maintenance by weighing several different factors. 

How Is Spousal Support Awarded in an Illinois Divorce?

Alimony/Spousal Support

In Illinois, to determine if one spouse is eligible to receive maintenance, the judge must consider several factors required by law. These factors include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. The income and property of each spouse;
  2. The needs of each spouse;
  3. The realistic present and future earning potential and capacity of each spouse;
  4. Whether there are any impairments of the earning potential and/or capacity of each spouse;
  5. Whether the spouse requesting maintenance is able to support themself through appropriate employment. If not, what time is needed to enable the spouse seeking maintenance to acquire the appropriate education, training, and employment needed to support themself;
  6. The standard of living established during the marriage;
  7. The length of the marriage;
  8. The age, health, occupations, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities, and needs of each spouse;
  9. The tax consequences of each spouse;
  10. The contributions and services by the spouse seeking spousal maintenance to the other spouse’s education, training, career, or career potential.

Let’s examine how some of the most important factors play a role in determining maintenance awards in Illinois.

Important Maintenance Factors Considered by the Court

When courts assess spousal support, they consider various factors to ensure a fair and equitable outcome for both parties. The first crucial consideration is the duration of the marriage. Generally, longer marriages may warrant more support, as one spouse may have become financially dependent on the other over time.

The court can also evaluate each spouse’s earning capacity and financial needs, including their education, job skills, and employment history, to determine their ability to support themselves. 

If one spouse sacrificed career opportunities or education to support the family, raise children, or advance the other’s career during the marriage, this could also influence the maintenance decision.

Contributions made by one spouse to the education, training, or career potential of the other spouse are another vital aspect. While financial contributions are obvious, non-financial contributions such as homemaking, childcare, and supporting the other spouse’s career aspirations are equally valued. Courts recognize that these contributions often impact a spouse’s ability to earn income independently after a divorce is finalized.

The court can also consider the standard of living established during the marriage. One of the goals of maintenance is to help the lower-earning spouse maintain a similar standard of living post-divorce.

Other relevant circumstances may also come into play, such as health issues, age, and whether the parties have children together. The court should weigh all relevant factors comprehensively to reach a fair spousal support arrangement.

Since every marriage is different, the issue of maintenance can be complicated and very case-specific. The team at Manassa Law can explain how Illinois law applies to your unique circumstances and help you build a solid argument whether you need maintenance or want to ensure you are paying a fair amount. 

Consider us more than just your lawyers; we’re your allies in navigating the complexities of family law, especially determining spousal maintenance obligations, in Illinois. Our mission is to champion your interests and help you achieve your goals efficiently and cost-effectively. Contact our office to schedule a free consultation with our compassionate legal team today.

What Are the 3 Types of Spousal Maintenance in Illinois?

If the court determines that spousal maintenance is warranted in a dissolution of marriage, it can award three different forms of spousal support.  Illinois law allows these types of maintenance:

  1. Fixed-term maintenance – One spouse will receive a specific amount of financial support from the other for a predetermined length of time. Upon the expiration of the time designated by the court, the paying spouse’s obligation to pay maintenance is terminated;
  2. Indefinite maintenance – This designation applies only to long-term marriages of 20 or more years. The receiving spouse is awarded a specific amount of financial support without a designated termination date. More often than not, this type of maintenance stays in plus until the paying spouse reaches, at minimum, normal retirement age;
  3. Reviewable maintenance – In this situation, the court will set maintenance for a specific duration of time and then review whether support is still needed based on the same factors as above. Upon such a review, the Court decides whether spousal support is still appropriate and, if so, in what amount and/or duration of time. 

Unless the parties agree to a certain form of maintenance, once it is awarded, the court will determine the appropriate type of spousal support based on the facts and circumstances of each case. 

The court can also order spousal support on a temporary basis before the final divorce judgment is entered. Temporary maintenance is the spousal support paid by one spouse to the other spouse while the divorce case is pending. A party who believes they are entitled to financial support can request temporary maintenance by filing a petition in the divorce case.

How Much Spousal Support Will I Receive?


The amount of spousal support you may receive depends on whether the court grants guideline maintenance or non-guideline maintenance. 

Typically, guideline maintenance is awarded, provided that both parties’ gross annual income is less than $500,000.The court calculates 33.3% of the payer’s net annual income for guideline maintenance and subtracts 25% of the recipient’s net yearly income. 

When added to the recipient’s annual net income, the resulting maintenance amount cannot exceed 40% of the parties’ combined annual net income. If the marriage lasted 20 years or more, the court may order spousal support for a duration matching the length of the marriage or indefinitely.

Under certain circumstances, a court may decide that non-guideline maintenance is appropriate. When deviating from the statutory guidelines, a judge must determine what the guideline maintenance would have been, justify the deviation in writing, and specify the amount and duration of the non-guideline maintenance award.

Understanding the intricacies of spousal support and determining the appropriate maintenance can be complex. That’s where a skilled Illinois divorce attorney can help. We can explain how Illinois law affects spousal maintenance in your unique situation and work toward achieving the best possible outcome for your case.

For More Information About Illinois Maintenance, Talk to an Experienced Illinois Divorce Lawyer Today

Navigating a divorce can be an incredibly challenging process, especially when considering the financial implications involved. Whether you’re seeking spousal support or have concerns about potential financial obligations, the legal professionals at Manassa Law are here to provide guidance and support. 

At Manassa Law, we represent individuals and families facing various Illinois family law matters, including divorce, child custody and support, and spousal maintenance. We empower our clients to navigate these challenging situations confidently by leveraging our deep understanding of Illinois law and experience in various divorce situations.

To learn more about how we can assist you or to schedule a complimentary consultation, please don’t hesitate to contact us today. Call (847) 221-5511 or complete our convenient online contact form. Your journey towards a brighter future starts here.

Related: The Pros and Cons of Separation vs. Divorce

Larry Manassa