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When Is Alimony Awarded in Chicago?

You may find yourself asking the question, “when is alimony awarded?” Alimony is awarded in Chicago or Des Plaines when one spouse requests it and can prove need, and the other spouse is capable of paying. For example, an income disparity can show a need for financial support if the lower-earning spouse would struggle after the divorce. Financial dependence, disability, parenting responsibilities, the standard of living during the marriage, and sacrifices one spouse made for the marriage can all contribute to need. Other ways for alimony to occur include a prenuptial agreement and when the spouses agree on it between themselves and get court approval.

Alimony in Illinois

Alimony is not always a guarantee in Illinois, even in cases of obvious income differences. For example, one spouse has to ask for it. The other spouse also must have the ability to pay. Spouses who do not want to pay may try to understate their income, hide assets, or attempt other tactics. If you suspect your spouse is trying to avoid alimony in this way, you can try to find hidden assets in a divorce.

Types of Alimony in Illinois

Illinois has five main types of spousal support: temporary, fixed-term, reviewable, permanent, and lump-sum.

Temporary

Temporary spousal support is paid while divorce actions are pending. Requesting it is an important item to include on an Illinois divorce checklist if you need support.

Temporary alimony can help cover a spouse’s living costs and expenses when the spouses live separately before a divorce is final. The spouse requesting temporary alimony usually asks for it in the initial divorce paperwork, but can request it later.

Fixed-Term

Fixed-term is for a set time frame. During this period, the payee spouse should take steps toward becoming more financially independent, if possible. Fixed-term alimony is fairly common in situations where one spouse gave up educational or career opportunities during the marriage to raise children or run the household. The spouse depended on the other spouse’s income during this time.

Fixed-term is also typical in situations where one spouse’s job prospects are limited, but educational or training opportunities can increase his or her potential to meet a certain standard of living.

Reviewable

Reviewable alimony is like fixed-term alimony, but not for a specific time frame. The court reviews the need for alimony periodically to check that the payee is making good-faith efforts toward self-sufficiency. Reviewable alimony can occur in situations where the path to financial independence is at least somewhat unclear.

Permanent

Under court order, permanent spousal support lasts for as long as the payee spouse lives, unless a terminating event such as the spouse’s remarriage occurs. It may be awarded in marriages lasting 20 years or more.

Lump-Sum

Alimony is often paid monthly or at other intervals, but it can be through a one-time, lump-sum payment. This could occur in situations where the payor spouse may have financial stability issues in the future, or when the spouses want to make a clean break and have as little ongoing contact as possible. Lump-sum alimony might also be used for tax purposes or as part of asset division in a divorce.

When Is Alimony Awarded by the Court?

Can you get Alimony after divorce? The median household income in Chicago is $71,673. In Des Plaines, it is $86,552. A divorce can cause these amounts to drop considerably, so courts usually award alimony during divorce proceedings when one spouse asks for it and can show a need. The other spouse must have the ability to pay, too.

It is possible for a court to not award alimony at first, but to do so after a divorce is finalized if financial situations change. Alimony can be modified in these circumstances, too, with payments or their duration increasing, decreasing, or terminating.

When a court awards alimony, the length of the marriage is an important factor.

How Does the Duration of the Marriage Impact the Alimony Amount?

Illinois courts have a formula they can follow to determine the length of alimony payments. More payments mean a higher amount of alimony altogether. That said, courts do have the discretion to deviate from these guidelines.

  • Married less than five years: Alimony lasts for 20% of the marriage length
  • Married seven to eight years: Alimony lasts for 32% of the marriage length
  • Married 10 to 11 years: Alimony lasts for 44% of the marriage length
  • Married 15 to 16 years: Alimony lasts for 64% of the marriage length
  • Married 20 years or more: Alimony can last for 100% of the marriage length or indefinitely

The longer people are married, the more financially entwined and dependent they typically are. That’s why alimony pay length increases with marriage length.

Limits and Termination of Alimony in Illinois

Illinois courts might limit alimony due to prenuptial or postnuptial agreements. The terms in these agreements usually supersede Illinois alimony formulas, but the agreements do need to be valid and enforceable. A short-term marriage can also limit the amount of alimony, as can situations where the spouses have roughly equal earning capacities. Fault, or marital misconduct, is not a consideration for alimony in Illinois.

Three main circumstances can result in alimony being terminated early. A spousal maintenance lawyer can give you advice specific to your situation, whether you are the payor or payee.

What Circumstances May Lead to the Termination of Alimony in Chicago or Des Plaines?

Remarriage of the payee spouse is a major reason alimony gets terminated before its end date. Cohabitating with a new partner can have the same outcome, too.

A substantial change in circumstances can also lead to alimony termination. For instance, if the payee spouse receives a sizable inheritance, the payor might ask the court to terminate alimony. This could happen too if the payee gets a well-paying job earlier than expected.

Conversely, if the payee loses his or her job, he or she might ask the court for an increase in alimony payments. Going to court for a change in circumstances requires thorough documentation, and legal advice is helpful.

He helps clients resolve issues relating to family law, including divorce, parenting time and parental responsibilities, paternity, and child support. As a skilled real estate attorney as well, Scott also provides advice and legal representation to clients who are purchasing or selling residential or commercial property in Illinois.

Years of Experience: Approx. 30 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: Illiois Courts Northern District of Illinois Federal Courts Illinois State Bar Association Chicago Bar Association
A lawyer discussing with a man divorce reasons. When is alimony awarded.

He helps clients resolve issues relating to family law, including divorce, parenting time and parental responsibilities, paternity, and child support. As a skilled real estate attorney as well, Scott also provides advice and legal representation to clients who are purchasing or selling residential or commercial property in Illinois.

Years of Experience: Approx. 30 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: Illiois Courts Northern District of Illinois Federal Courts Illinois State Bar Association Chicago Bar Association

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