Discussions over alimony are often the most contentious part of divorce negotiations. Alimony is awarded to ensure that the petitioning spouse is able to meet their monthly financial obligations, but it does not guarantee that they will continue to have the same standard of living they enjoyed when they were married. Illinois law provides judges with clear instructions about how to calculate alimony, but it is still a good idea for spouses to try to settle this matter amicably if at all possible.
Alimony in Illinois
The rules for calculating alimony in the state were changed in 2019 when lawmakers revised the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. Spousal support can still be awarded to provide spouses with temporary assistance during a divorce or help them to obtain education or work training following a divorce, but judges now have less discretion when they decide how much should be paid. Under the 2019 guidelines, judges must award the difference between a third of the payer’s annual net income and a quarter of the petitioner’s annual net income. This figure is then divided by 12 to arrive at a monthly payment.
While the rules for calculating alimony in Illinois are fairly simple, spouses who wish to seek support should still prepare for antagonistic and possibly hostile negotiations. Items that spouses should gather before these negotiations begin include:
- Paystubs, W2s and tax returns that can be used to establish gross and net income. Tax returns can be particularly useful as they could reveal sources of income that the paying spouse is reluctant to disclose.
- Bills and bank or credit card statements that provide details about current expenses.
- Documents dealing with the cost of post divorce further education or job training.
Negotiations should be conducted carefully and pragmatically, but emotions often rise to the forefront when delicate matters are discussed. When paying alimony is a sticking point that a divorcing spouse just cannot look beyond, the spouse seeking support may be able to strike a deal that awards them more marital assets in return for dropping their claim.