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When a couple is going through the legal process of divorce, there are chances that the court may award spousal support or alimony to one of the spouses, based on the court’s decision or an agreement between the spouses. The spouse who is financially stable is required to pay spousal support to the financially dependent spouse, in addition to other financial obligations such as child support and the division of debt. This measure is mostly temporary, which the court enforces till the other spouse gets back on their feet and starts earning enough to support themselves.

Why the Court Awards Alimony?

The purpose of awarding alimony is to balance the unfair financial effects of divorce by giving a continuous stream of income to a lower wage or non-earning spouse. The main reason for providing spousal support is that the spouse may have to quit their job to support the family, and may require time to develop job skills and earn experience in order to find a suitable job to support themselves. Another reason can be to help the spouse to continue having the same standard of living they had before the divorce.

How the Court Determines the Amount of Alimony?

Unlike child support, which has detailed and specific monetary guidelines elucidated by the law, there are a lot of factors that influence the decision of whether to award spousal support. The Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act states that courts should consider the following factors:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The standard of living of the couple before divorce
  • The financial condition, physical and emotion state, and age of the former spouse
  • The timeframe required for the former spouse to receive training or education to become self-sufficient
  • The ability of the financially stable spouse to support their former spouse and themselves.


The Duration of Spousal Support

The duration of spousal support is determined using the guidelines as stated in 750 ILCS 5/504. When the court decides to award alimony, the duration is calculated by multiplying the marriage length at the time of divorce in the following manner:

  • Less than or equal to 5 years (.20)
  • Less than 10 years but more than or equal to 5 years (.40)
  • Less than 15 years but more than or equal to 10 years (.60)
  • Less than 20 years but more than or equal to 15 years (.80)
  • If the marriage lasted for 20 years or more, it is up to the court to decide either to award maintenance for a period equal to marriage length or permanent maintenance.


The Statutory Limit on the Amount of Spousal Support

According to the Illinois State Bar Association, a spousal support should be equal to 30 percent of the gross income of the payer, minus 20 percent of the receiver’s gross income. The court has to keep in mind that the percentage shouldn’t exceed 40 percent of both spouses’ collective gross income when the amount is added to the payee’s gross income. This formula applies to all the sources of income including wages, retirement, overtime, and others. However, it doesn’t include social security or veteran benefits.

If you are going through a divorce, you should hire a divorce attorney to ensure that you don’t become a victim of unfair financial adjustments. Contact Casement Group, P.C. today at (847) 888-9300 for a free consultation with an experienced and reliable divorce attorney.

One Response to “Understanding the Basics of Spousal Support (Alimony) after Divorce”

  1. Tyler Meredith

    It’s interesting to read about some of the reasons that an alimony is awarded and in what situations it would benefit. It’s interesting that the biggest reason for an alimony is due to one of the spouses quitting their career to care for the family. It makes sense that this could be a problem if it came time for a divorce as that spouse would be at a much greater financial risk. It’s something to remember when looking at alimony attorneys.


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