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What Determines How Long Alimony Is Paid In Illinois?

Getting a divorce in Illinois does not necessarily mean you will receive alimony, also known as spousal support. If you and your spouse did not have a prenuptial agreement that requires spousal support and cannot agree about the issue during the divorce, the decision is left to the judge. Learn more in this article about alimony in Illinois divorces, then contact our Naperville spousal maintenance attorneys at Keller Legal Services for assistance.

Spousal Maintenance Overview

After a divorce, one partner with more financial resources may be required to pay alimony to the other. A common question is how long spousal support payments last. The answer varies, but the most important factor is the marriage’s length. Illinois law has several guidelines established to determine how long spousal maintenance payments last:

  • If you were married five years or less, one year of spousal support.
  • If you were married five to 10 years, 1.5 to four years.
  • If you were married 10 to 20 years, 4.5 to 16 years.
  • If you were married for over 20 years, you might have to pay spousal support indefinitely.

So, the length of the alimony payments is directly related to the marriage’s length. The state has a formula to determine the length of the payments, but the family court judge also has the discretion to deviate from the law somewhat when they deem it necessary.

What Kind Of Spousal Support?

It also is essential to know the kind of spousal support you must pay. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act mentions four kinds of spousal support. The length of payments also somewhat depends on the type of support ordered:

  • Temporary: This type of alimony could be ordered as a preliminary arrangement when the divorce is pending. Temporary alimony ends when the divorce is finalized. However, temporary alimony often switches to another type that lasts longer.
  • Rehabilitative: This is another short-term spousal support intended to help one spouse get into a better financial situation. Usually, rehabilitative spousal support is ordered while one partner obtains college or job training.
  • Fixed-term: This type of alimony lasts a certain number of years. The major factor in determining the length is how long the marriage was.
  • Indefinite: This type is also called permanent alimony. This alimony is usually awarded after a marriage that lasted 20 or more years.

Sometimes the alimony question is addressed after the divorce is finalized with a lump-sum payment. For example, if you are entitled to spousal maintenance, you could waive the right if you receive a lump-sum payment or another type of financial arrangement.

Other Spousal Maintenance Questions

Below are other common questions about spousal maintenance in Illinois. If you have questions, please contact one of our Naperville spousal maintenance attorneys:

How much alimony can you get in Illinois?

The amount of spousal maintenance you can receive in Illinois depends on many factors, such as:

  • Age, emotional and physical condition of the spouse receiving alimony.
  • The earning ability of the spouse receiving alimony.
  • How well the receiving spouse can provide for their needs.
  • The present and future ability to earn a living of both spouses.

Is there a list of factors for calculating alimony payments?

Yes. Illinois has a list of factors to consider when the family law judge determines alimony payments.

Is marital fault ever considered for alimony?

No. The state does not consider marital fault when it determines alimony payments. So, divorces due to abuse or infidelity do not affect how alimony is calculated.

How do you petition for alimony for Illinois?

One party completes a petition for spousal maintenance during the Illinois divorce. When you file for divorce, you must petition for alimony. alimony is not guaranteed and will only be ordered if you ask. After requesting maintenance, the family court will review the abovementioned factors.

If one spouse is ordered to pay alimony and wants to have it modified, they must continue to make payments so they are not held in contempt. In addition, the person asking for a modification must show that there have been economic changes since the order was made. For example, you may indicate that you retired, were laid off, or suffered a disability. Another possibility is if the spouse receiving alimony is making a higher income and no longer needs the support.

The court also will consider if the paying spouse will suffer extreme financial hardship if they must continue paying spousal maintenance. However, the court will not waive or modify alimony if the paying spouse quits their job or takes a cut in income by choice.

Does the judge consider standard of living before the divorce?

Yes. Living standards are considered when the judge determines the appropriate alimony payment in Illinois. So, the judge will review the lifestyle you had during the marriage when considering what the spousal maintenance payment will be.

What happens if the partner does not pay alimony?

If the paying spouse does not make payments, there is an owed debt called alimony arrears. Arrears can be collected in small claims court, mediation, or wage garnishment. In addition, if the spouse does not comply with the alimony order, they also can have a contempt of court charge placed against them.

Can spousal maintenance be waived because of a prenuptial agreement?

Yes. A prenup is an agreement between the spouses about financial matters that was signed before the marriage. In addition, many prenuptial agreements have a clause that limits or waives the rights to alimony.

What is alimony mediation?

When a marriage ends in divorce, the ex-spouse may agree to alimony in family court or an agreement outside of court. An alimony mediator can help the partners agree out of court. The mediator can also help with property division. Coming to a mutual agreement outside of court can avoid many legal expenses.

Contact Our Naperville Spousal Maintenance Attorney Now

Spousal maintenance is one of the more contentious parts of an Illinois divorce, but our Naperville spousal maintenance attorney at Keller Legal Services can address your questions promptly. Please contact our Illinois family law attorneys today at 630-505-1515 with your spousal maintenance questions and issues.