Alimony in Illinois: How much? How Long?

As an Illinois family law attorney practicing in Chicago, Naperville, Skokie and elsewhere, I know many people getting divorced have questions about how much alimony will be paid for how long. They often contact me with considerable anxiety about the issue.

First, you should know that in Illinois, what used to be called “alimony” is now called “spousal maintenance.” So that’s how I’ll refer to it in this article.

Here is the real truth: it’s up to the judge. All judges are different, and the facts of your case are different than the facts of other case.

Length and amount maintenance

The length and amount of maintenance is determined by the degree of existence of the following factors:

  1. The age of both parties
  2. The health of both parties
  3. The property owned by each party, including what was awarded in divorce
  4. The income and future earning ability of each party
  5. The needs of each party and the standard of living of the marriage
  6. The time required for the party seeking maintenance to become self-supporting
  7. The extent to which the party to receive maintainance contributed to the career/education/licensure o the other party

Termination of maintenance

If maintenance is awarded, these days its almost always temporary. For one year, two years, or something else. The days of lifetime maintenance are pretty much over.

But however long maintenance is for – whether that be through judgment or settlement – it can be terminated early.

Section 510(a-5) of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (the “IMDMA”) outlines various factors that can be used by the court in deciding to terminate maintenance:

  1. Any change in the employment status of either party and whether the change has been made in good faith;
  2. The efforts, if any, made by the party receiving maintenance to become self-supporting, and the reasonableness of the efforts where they are appropriate;
  3. Any impairment of the present and future earning capacity of either party;
  4. The tax consequences of the maintenance payments upon the respective economic circumstances of the parties;
  5. The duration of the maintenance payments previously paid (and remaining to be paid) relative to the length of the marriage;
  6. The property, including retirement benefits, awarded to each party under the judgment of dissolution of marriage, judgment of legal separation, or judgment of declaration of invalidity of marriage and the present status of property;
  7. The increase or decrease of each party’s income since the prior judgment or order from which a review, modification, or termination is being sought;
  8. The property acquired and currently owned by each party after the entry of the judgment of dissolution of marriage, judgment of legal separation, or judgment of declaration of invalidity of marriage; and
  9. Any other factor that the court expressly finds to be just and equitable.

Hiring a spousal maintenance lawyer

If you are concerned about the payment of spousal maintenance (formerly known as “alimony”), there is probably enough at stake to warrant hiring an Illinois family law attorney.

If you are concerned about a change in maintenance – such as terminating, increasing, or decreasing it – that is accomplished by filing a motion in court. If you contact me we can get started.

As a lawyer who represents clients in spousal maintenance issues, I can’t guarantee results, but I make arguments designed to lead the court to the desired result.

You may also like to read my article, “Dividing property in divorce: Overview” and “Divorce in Illinois: Financial disclosure basics.”






About the author: Contact Illinois family law attorney David Wolkowitz at 312-554-5433 or online. He is a family law and divorce attorney serving Chicago and the Counties of Cook, Champaign, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will. Areas of practice include divorce, uncontested divorce, child custody, visitation, spousal maintenance, child support, and the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction & Enforcement Act (the “UCCJEA”).