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How does Illinois determine alimony payments?

Many people may not realize that Illinois no longer has the word “alimony” on its books. Instead, laws refer to it as either spousal support or maintenance. No matter the name, however, it all refers to the same thing: court-ordered payments made by one spouse to another.

Not everyone qualifies to receive spousal support, and, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, women are increasingly making the payments, not receiving them. There are several key factors that a judge will take into account to determine payments, including the following:

  • What the financial needs of each spouse are
  • What the standard of living was during the marriage
  • Both spouses’ age and physical and emotional health
  • Each spouse’s current income and property in addition to each person’s earning capacity
  • The time it may take for a spouse to receive education, training and employment in order to be self-supporting

The right payment amount should also factor in the tax implications of any property division. For example, the Internal Revenue Service deems that alimony is taxable income in nearly all instances. Likewise, it can also be a deduction for the spouse making the payments.

On top of these factors, Illinois recognizes a variety of maintenance payments. The first, rehabilitative support, is a short-term solution to assist spouses until they become self-supporting. A longer-term option may come with an expiration date that can be modified down the road. Lastly, Illinois currently recognizes permanent maintenance, which usually occurs if spouses can prove they will not ever have the option to obtain gainful employment.

When both spouses are self-supporting, it is possible that a judge will not order any maintenance payments. In some instances, a judge may give a spouse earning less money additional property during asset division to compensate for the inequality.

The information collected here regarding spousal support is useful for those going through a divorce, but it should not be taken as legal advice.

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