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During your divorce, there will be many issues for you and your spouse to resolve. It probably comes as little surprise that property and finances are often among the most contentious concerns. You and your spouse have worked hard for what you have, and the idea of “losing” your property in your divorce can be difficult. Financial matters, however, include more than just dividing marital assets and debts. Spousal support—sometimes known as alimony or maintenance—is another monetary issue that can create serious disagreements between divorcing spouses.

If you are considering a divorce, you are likely to have questions about how maintenance is awarded in Illinois and if it will be a consideration in your case. Some of the most commonly asked questions include:

Q.  Is Spousal Support Automatic?

A. According to Illinois law, spousal support is only awarded in a divorce if a spouse can show that there is a need for it. There is no guarantee that support will be awarded and asking for maintenance does not necessarily mean that it will be ordered. Of course, if there is a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement between you and your spouse regarding support, that agreement will likely be followed.

Q. How Does the Court Determine a Spouse’s Need?

A. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act lays out about a dozen different factors that the court must consider when deciding whether to order spousal support. They include each spouse’s income and needs, the length of the marriage, and the lifestyle the couple enjoyed. The court must also take into account each party’s contribution to the family and the earning capacity of the other spouse.

Q. How Much Will I Pay or Receive?

A. If you and your spouse make less than $250,000 per year combined and you neither of you have support obligations from a previous relationship—child support or spousal support—the amount of maintenance will be determined using a formula provided in the law. The calculation is based on the weighted difference between your income and that of your spouse. If you make more than $250,000 or there are other support obligations, the court will determine an amount that is reasonable and just.

Q. How Long Will Payments Continue?

A. The length of a spousal support order depends on how long you and your spouse were married. The law provides a table to calculate the duration of such orders so that longer marriages result in relatively longer support awards. Your support order can also be terminated if the receiving spouse gets remarried or cohabitates with a new partner.

Contact an Illinois Divorce Lawyer

The answers to these four questions provide a simplified overview of the laws regarding spousal support in Illinois, but each case must be considered on an individual basis. If you have more specific concerns pertaining to maintenance or any other divorce-related matter, contact an experienced Kane County divorce attorney. Call 847-426-1866 or 630-945-8807 for a confidential consultation today.