How Is Spousal Maintenance Used in an Illinois Divorce?

Posted on in Spousal Support

Barrington divorce attorney spousal support

Although all divorces may have some things in common, each case is unique depending on the couple. Some spouses mutually agree to legally end their marriage while in other cases, one partner is blindsided by the breakup. Typically, there are several issues that must be addressed before the divorce is considered final. According to Illinois law, marital property is subject to equitable distribution, which means possessions are divided fairly but not exactly 50/50. This also includes any outstanding debt the couple may have acquired throughout their marriage. Another aspect that is considered is whether one spouse is entitled to spousal maintenance or support, which is also known as alimony. Financial support of this nature allows one party to maintain a certain standard of living after the divorce until he or she can secure employment and become financially independent. 

Spousal Support Guidelines

As of January 1, 2019, the rules governing spousal maintenance in Illinois changed. If a couple cannot reach an agreement on spousal support payments, then the court will get involved. The court will consider all relevant factors to come up with a duration and an amount that is appropriate, including the length of the marriage, each party’s income level, as well as his or her future earning potential. 

Maintenance is typically awarded unless the court finds that doing so would be inappropriate. Generally, guideline maintenance is awarded if the parties’ combined gross annual income is less than $500,000 and if the payor of the maintenance is not obligated to pay maintenance or child support in another child custody case. 

Spousal maintenance is now calculated by taking 33.3 percent of the payor’s net annual income minus 25 percent of the payee’s net annual income. Prior to 2019, it was calculated by taking 30 percent of the payor’s gross annual income minus 20 percent of the payee’s gross annual income.

Financial Obligations After Divorce

In most cases, spousal maintenance is awarded if one spouse lacks sufficient income, assets, or property to provide for reasonable needs and expenses and is unable to support himself or herself through current employment. In other words, it basically evens the economic playing field once the dust from the divorce settles. However, this financial relief is most often considered rehabilitative, meaning it only lasts until the receiving party can support himself or herself. In rare cases, permanent spousal maintenance may be awarded if the receiving spouse has a long-term illness or disability.  

A few of the main items that spousal support is intended for include:

  • Rent or mortgage payments
  • Utilities (gas, water, electric, phone, Internet)
  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Educational or vocational training

Illinois courts can also order temporary spousal maintenance during the divorce proceedings or while a legal separation is pending until a final order or judgment is issued. Payments are usually made on a monthly basis, but they can also be paid in one lump sum as part of the divorce agreement. These orders automatically end upon either spouse’s death, incarceration, or if one party remarries or cohabitates with another person on a continual basis. 

Contact a Palatine Divorce Lawyer

Spousal maintenance may be an integral part of your divorce settlement, allowing you to move on without worrying about finances. At The Law Office of Nicholas W. Richardson, we will put our extensive legal knowledge and skills to work for you to resolve your problems. Our seasoned Arlington Heights divorce attorney has proven success in finding solutions that work for every client, regardless if their divorce is contested or uncontested. To schedule your free consultation, call us today at 847.873.6741. 




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