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Making sense of alimony in Illinois

Alimony is often granted in divorce cases as a way to compensate the spouse who earns the lowest wages. It is considered a form of support, which is why in Illinois it is now referred to as spousal support instead of alimony. The idea is to help ensure a continuation in the standard of living that was enjoyed during the marriage.

The Illinois General Assembly sets forth several guidelines to help judges determine whether or not to award alimony. Under these guidelines, the court is given the right to consider any factors deemed worthy. Within the standard procedure, the court is required to look at the emotional and physical state of each spouse, how long they were married, the standard of living during the marriage, tax consequences of property distribution, any agreements in place, such as premarital agreements, and the ages of the couple. Specific conditions for deciding alimony include custody of the children and its effect on earning potential, if education would be needed to increase earning potential income, and property ownership of both spouses. It should be noted, though that marital misconduct is generally not to be considered by the courts when making a ruling on alimony.

Child support and alimony are often ordered together in a divorce case. Due to this, the payment and collection of alimony is usually similar to that of child support. In addition, punishments for not paying alimony also are similar to those for not paying child support.

When it comes to federal taxes, Forbes relays some helpful information to ensure alimony doesn’t cause headaches for the person paying. In order to take it as a tax deduction, a person must ensure the order does not refer to it as non-alimony. Payments must also be made in cash. Alimony cannot be used for tax deduction purposes if the spouses are filing taxes together. It must be paid on the ordered scheduled and not prepaid or else it cannot be claimed on taxes as a deduction. Finally, it is important to understand alimony is income for the person receiving it and tax deductible as an expense for the person paying it. 

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