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Untitled---2023-10-13T101452.575.jpgAlimony, otherwise known as spousal maintenance, can have a big impact on both the one paying it and the one receiving it. It can greatly affect their finances and is a major consideration in their financial planning. Without it, many more unhappy couples would likely remain married. Why? If one spouse has filled the “homemaker” role while the other has developed their career, the nonworking spouse would otherwise have no way to finance their life if they divorced. The spouse who spent all those years working and earning would have been unable to do so if the other spouse had not stepped up at home, giving them the freedom and ability to go off to work. Recognizing this, the courts have formulated methods to calculate spousal maintenance payments. If you are considering divorce but have questions about alimony, a DuPage County, IL divorce lawyer can help clear up some of the confusion.

How Do the Courts Decide if Alimony Is Necessary?

Under certain circumstances, the courts could very well decide that spousal maintenance is not necessary in a divorce. For example, if both spouses work and earn enough to finance their own homes and lives, the courts could decide that spousal maintenance is not appropriate. Courts in the State of Illinois consider several factors when deciding about alimony for a specific couple, including:

  • Do either of the spouses own property? If one spouse works and the other owns rental properties that could serve as a source of income, alimony would likely be deemed inappropriate. 


Wheaton, IL alimony lawyerAlimony, spousal support, and spousal maintenance are all terms that are used to describe money that one spouse pays to the other after a divorce or legal separation. In Illinois, spousal maintenance may be agreed upon by the spouses, or the court may order one spouse to pay maintenance to the other. If you are getting divorced, you may have questions about whether you will be required to pay alimony. The answer to this question depends on several factors, including the length of your marriage, the incomes of both spouses, and the contributions each spouse made to the marriage.

Negotiated Spousal Maintenance Settlements

Like other elements of a divorce, spouses may be able to negotiate the terms of spousal maintenance through a marital agreement or during their divorce. If the spouses had previously made an agreement regarding maintenance in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, the court will typically uphold that agreement during divorce.

If the spouses do not have any previous agreements, they may be able to reach an agreement about the amount and duration of spousal maintenance during the divorce process.


IL divorce lawyerIf you are getting divorced, you may understandably have concerns about the divorce’s impact on your finances. Illinois law allows courts to award spousal maintenance, also referred to as alimony or spousal support, to help offset the negative financial impact of a divorce. However, spousal maintenance is only available in certain circumstances. Many people misunderstand how and when maintenance is available in an Illinois divorce. Read on to learn the answers to the most frequently asked questions about spousal maintenance.

How Can You Get Alimony?

Alimony or spousal maintenance is not automatically awarded to a spouse in Illinois. There are three main ways that you may receive spousal maintenance:

Mutual agreement between the spouses – You and your spouse may be able to agree to spousal maintenance terms through your respective attorneys or during the mediation process.


DuPage County spousal maintenance lawyerEven in today’s world where a two-income household is becoming more of the norm, it is not uncommon to come across a family in which one parent works while the other stays at home to take care of the children. This may work during the marriage, but if the couple were to ever get a divorce, the stay-at-home parent could be at a significant financial disadvantage. In these types of situations, spousal support, also known as spousal maintenance or alimony, is sometimes awarded to a lesser-earning spouse to help them become self-sufficient and to ensure they are able to enjoy a similar standard of living that they enjoyed during the marriage. 

How Long Does Spousal Support Continue?

The terms of a spousal maintenance award, including the duration of the payments, can differ from case to case depending on a variety of factors. However, there are a few situations in which spousal support will almost always automatically terminate:

  • Cohabitation: Illinois is one of the states in which spousal maintenance terminates when the receiving spouse moves in with or begins to cohabitate with a new partner. The spouse paying the support has the burden of proving the other spouse has a cohabiting relationship with another person, which is defined in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) as two people living with one another “on a resident, continuing conjugal basis.”


Naperville spousal maintenance attorneyThere is no guarantee that either spouse will receive spousal maintenance in an Illinois divorce. Though 40 or 50 years ago, spousal support or alimony was rather common in divorces, today it is more of an exception to the rule, rather than the rule itself. There are a few situations in which you might receive spousal maintenance. Your case might involve spousal maintenance if you and your spouse have a significant difference in income or if one of you sacrificed your career to stay home and raise the kids or take care of family responsibilities. Whatever the case, there is a formula used to determine the amount of maintenance to be paid in Illinois.

How to Calculate Spousal Maintenance

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) specifies the formula that is used to determine how much spousal maintenance is to be paid and how long those payments will last. The formula contained in the act applies to couples whose combined gross annual income is less than $500,000. Anything more than that, and the court can use its discretion to determine an appropriate amount of maintenance.

Currently, spousal maintenance is calculated by taking 33.3 percent of the payor’s net annual income and subtracting 25 percent of the payee’s net annual income. The result of that calculation is the annual amount of spousal maintenance that must be paid. To determine the monthly payment amount, the annual spousal maintenance amount is divided by 12. It is also important to note that the payee's net annual income and the amount of maintenance, when added together, cannot be higher than 40% of the couple's combined net annual income.

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