When going through a divorce, you or your spouse may be ordered to pay the other alimony, depending on the circumstances of your case. Although the court will consider many factors when deciding to award alimony in Illinois, knowing your rights prior to beginning divorce proceedings can help prevent unexpected surprises in your divorce case.
What Is Alimony?
Alimony, also known as spousal support or maintenance, is a payment intended for one spouse from the other to help the receiving spouse maintain the standard of living that they had during the marriage or to provide them with financial help while seeking further education or employment that they may have sacrificed for their marriage.
Do I Qualify for Alimony?
It’s possible, but it depends. Not everyone who petitions for alimony is awarded it.
There are two typical ways in which spousal support may be awarded in Illinois.
Spousal Support in Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreements
If you and your spouse have a marital agreement that dictates maintenance support in the case of a divorce, you may be entitled to alimony as long as your agreement meets the required criteria of Illinois law.
If your pre or postnuptial agreement doesn’t meet the proper guidelines, is signed under duress, or is extremely unfair, it may not be legally acceptable. Because of this, it is imperative that you always have an experienced family law attorney help you draft and review any marital agreements to ensure legal compliance.
Court Ordered Spousal Support
Either spouse can request alimony during a legal separation or divorce, however they have to be able to prove the need for financial support during or after divorce.
What Factors Does an Illinois Court Consider When Determining Alimony?
An Illinois court will have to take several things into consideration to make alimony determinations including, but not limited to:
- The income and property of each spouse, including division of marital property
- The current state of need for support
- The current and future earning potential of the requesting spouse and any impairment they may experience due to the marriage, such as leaving the workforce to be a stay-at-home parent
- The length of the marriage and standard of living established in the marriage
- The amount of time the requesting spouse needs to acquire appropriate training, education, and employment to become financially independent
- The age and health of each spouse
- Any marital agreements between the spouses
Will My Alimony Be Permanent?
This will depend on the circumstances of your case.
Some alimony payments are only temporary or reviewable if the receiving spouse needs some time to get into a better financial position in their life. This might be the case if they are pursuing education, training, or employment to become financially independent. In this situation, the alimony will have a termination date for when it will end unless the receiving spouse can prove further need for maintenance.
Alimony may also be awarded based on the length of the marriage, for a fixed term, at the end of which it will be terminated.
Permanent alimony has no definitive end date and is typically awarded either in the case of a spouse who cannot gain employment on their own due to health reasons or when a marriage has lasted over 20 years before ending.
What Other Factors May End Alimony Payments?
Outside of a court ordered termination date, there are three factors that will automatically terminate alimony payments in Illinois:
- Cohabitation – if the receiving spouse begins living with someone in a conjugal relationship
- Remarriage of the receiving spouse
- Death of either spouse
In other situations, a court may alter or terminate alimony if the circumstances have substantially changed for either spouse since the court order. This will require proof of these changes including, but not limited to:
- A change in employment status or income
- An impairment to earning income from health issues, disability, or other reason
- A receiving spouse’s lack of effort in becoming financially independent
Meet with an Illinois Alimony Attorney from the Law Office of David. A. King, P.C. to Discuss Your Eligibility
If you’re preparing to pursue a divorce or are currently going through a divorce, our family law attorneys can help you learn more about your rights to spousal support. We have years of experience in helping our clients receive a thorough and carefully evaluated case.