Alimony, spousal support and maintenance all refer to the same thing. They are payments granted to one spouse, paid by the other spouse. As you start the divorce process, it?s necessary to know the basic principles of alimony.
Who is entitled to alimony in Illinois, and what are the criteria for awarding it?
Alimony may be awarded to either spouse. The court does not consider fault or marital misconduct when setting the amount of alimony in Illinois. The court will consider other factors including:
- Both spouses? income and property
- Financial needs of each spouse
- Preset and future earning potential of each spouse
- Damage to the earning capacity of the spouse requesting alimony regarding time spent on domestic duties
- The time it will take the spouse who is seeking alimony to get education or employment
- The standard of living set during the marriage
- Length of the marriage
- Taxes for each spouse due to property division
- Age and physical and emotional state of both spouses
- Whether the spouse making the request made substantial contributions to the education and training of the other spouse
- Any valid agreement between the parties
- Any other factor the court deem fair or equitable
If both parties can become self-supporting, the court may not award alimony at all, even if one spouse earns considerably more than the other. The court will deal with earning differences by distributing more of the marital property to the spouse that earns the lesser amount of income.
Can I get temporary alimony during divorce proceedings?
Yes, you can. In Illinois, the court won?t usually issue a permanent order of alimony until the divorce proceedings conclude. So what happens if you need financial support while the divorce is still in process? You and your spouse can agree to an amount of temporary alimony. If you can?t agree, a judge can order one spouse to pay temporary alimony. A temporary alimony order usually ends when the final divorce judgment is made.
How long does alimony last?
There are many different types of alimony which have varying time periods. Short-term alimony helps the receiving spouse pay for living expenses while getting an education or employment training in order to become self-sufficient. Longer-term alimony may be ordered for a set time and reviewed again so the court can decide whether it should continue as is or be changed or terminated.
A spouse who receives longer-term alimony will still have to make good faith efforts to become employed and self-supporting. The idea is that alimony will be terminated eventually and not go on indefinitely. However, if a spouse can show a permanent inability to become self-supporting, the court can order the alimony to continue permanently.
Can the alimony schedule or payment amount be changed?
Yes, it can. In Illinois, spouses can agree to make alimony payments modifiable or non-modifiable under special conditions. If they don?t agree to make it non-modifiable, the obligation of payment will end automatically upon the supported spouse?s living with a new partner, remarriage, or death.
To be able to change alimony payments, the spouse asking for the change will have to show a material change in circumstances. This might include a decrease or increase in the ability to pay due to being promoted or losing a job, or a major change in the needs of either spouse. The court will consider all the factors when making a decision.
Will my alimony end if my spouse retires?
This depends on the circumstances of the individual case. Relevant factors like age, health status, motives and timing for retirement, ability to pay alimony after retirement, and the other spouse?s ability to become self-supporting will all be considered. The issue of how retirement will affect alimony should be addressed in the divorce settlement agreement. Then there will be no surprises when the paying spouse retires.
The attorneys at?Sherer Law Offices have been providing legal representation for divorce cases for more than 20 years.?We will take the time to listen to your concerns and devise resolution strategies that will protect your best interests.
CONTACT Sherer Law Offices to schedule a consultation for your divorce case.