Divorce in Illinois: Factors Affecting Alimony and Spousal Support

Going through the divorce process is emotional for both husbands and wives. Separating from one another, for whatever reason, is not what couples envision when they hold hands at the altar and recite their vows. However, unforeseeable events can occur, and sometimes a couple's best option is to go their separate ways.

There are many important issues to consider when a couple decides to get divorced. For example, a couple may need to decide whether to sell their residence, who will remain in the property, how to divide other assets, whether child support is necessary, as well as how much alimony one ex-spouse must pay the other (if anything).

Illinois Alimony Determinants

Alimony, also called spousal support, is financial support that one ex-spouse regularly pays to the other so he or she may support oneself following a divorce. It is necessary because often a husband or wife will quit a career to raise children or to take care of other duties at home. Because these individuals have been out of the workforce (often for many years), they often have difficulty finding employment to care for themselves.

As a result, courts often intervene to develop a spousal support plan that analyzes many aspects of a couple's past and their projected future, such as:

  • The income and assets of the parties
  • The future earning capacity of both spouses
  • Whether the party seeking maintenance delayed education, training or employment opportunities during the marriage to focus on domestic or other duties
  • The age, health and medical needs of both parties
  • The standard of living that was established during marriage
  • The time the party seeking support may reasonably need to secure steady employment

Of course, the court will consider factors unique to each couple's situation. Additionally, spousal support in Illinois, according to the Illinois General Assembly, can be permanent, temporary or rehabilitative. The length of time maintenance must be paid is determined on a case-by-case basis.

If you are considering a divorce — or are currently in the process of obtaining one — it can be helpful to speak with a family law attorney for an honest analysis of potential spousal support payments. Consult an experienced Illinois divorce attorney to ensure that you are neither paying too much to an ex-spouse, or that you are receiving the amount you deserve.