What Is Alimony?
Getting divorced can take a significant financial toll on any couple or family, especially when just one of the spouses was the primary earner. Whether one spouse stayed at home during the marriage to raise children or simply had a lower earning job, divorce can be extremely difficult when parties begin living on only one income. Alimony, which is known as spousal maintenance under Illinois law, is a term to describe a maintenance payment from one spouse to the other in order to account for substantial differences in income levels as a result of the divorce. Spousal maintenance is not awarded in all divorces, but it is awarded in many of them.
Factors for Awarding Spousal Maintenance in Illinois
In order for one spouse to receive alimony or spousal maintenance from the other spouse, the spouse seeking the maintenance must request it. The first step the court takes when it receives a request for spousal maintenance is to determine whether it is appropriate. In other words, should the spouse who wants maintenance receive it?
To make this determination, the court looks at some of the following statutory factors under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA):
- Property and income of each of the spouses, including both marital and non-marital property;
- Requirements of each of the parties;
- Current and future earning capacity of each of the parties;
- Impairment of the earning capacity of the spouse seeking maintenance due to that spouse, for example, taking on domestic duties during the marriage or forgoing education for the benefit of the other spouse;
- Impairment of earning capacity of the spouse who would be making the maintenance payments;
- Amount of time the party seeking maintenance would need to acquire the skills or educate level to reasonably support himself or herself;
- Standard of living over the course of the marriage;
- Length of the marriage;
- Tax consequences of property distribution for each of the spouses;
- Valid agreement concerning spousal maintenance previously made by the parties (such as in a premarital agreement); and
- Other factors that the court determines to be just and equitable.
Using a Formula to Determine Spousal Maintenance Amount and Duration
The IMDMA has a specific formula for many couples to determine the amount and duration of a maintenance award once the court decides that spousal maintenance is appropriate. As long as a married couple has a combined gross income of less than $250,000, the court typically uses this formula:
- Take 30 percent of the paying spouse’s gross income;
- Subtract 20 percent of the recipient spouse’s gross income; and
- Remaining amount is the spousal maintenance award.
To determine the duration, the court looks at a table that multiplies the number of years married by a percentage, which then gives the court the duration for the spousal maintenance award. For a marriage that lasted less than five years, the duration is much shorter than those lasting between 15-20 years, for example. When marriages last more than 20 years, the court can choose to order permanent maintenance or provide maintenance for a duration equal to the length of the marriage.
When spouses earn $250,000 or more, the court no longer uses the formula and instead relies on other factors to award maintenance.
Contact a DuPage County Divorce Attorney
If you have questions about spousal maintenance in Oakbrook Terrace, you should discuss them with an experienced DuPage County divorce lawyer as soon as you can. The dedicated attorneys at Farooqi & Husain Law Office have been serving the DuPage County Muslim community for years and can speak with you today about your situation. Contact us today for more information.