During the course of my career as a divorce attorney in Schaumburg, I have navigated many complex spousal maintenance issues for my clients. People come to me with various concerns about whether they will have to pay alimony, how much it will be, and how various other circumstances might affect these numbers.
This is a complex and emotionally charged area of the law. We will work together to show exactly how much you have contributed to your family. Please rest assured that my team and I will do everything we can to ensure that you get the alimony outcome you truly deserve under Illinois law.
A note on terminology: “Spousal maintenance” is the current legal term in Illinois for spousal support and alimony, and, for the sake of simplicity, I use those terms interchangeably here. If you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to contact my office directly for a consultation and full legal analysis of your situation.
Introduction to Spousal Maintenance
Choosing to divorce is a difficult decision, partly because is a life-changing event for everyone involved. Spousal maintenance tries to keep those changes from becoming disasters.
One of the most familiar forms is monthly payments. For a less financially stable partner to continue to have the same lifestyle after marriage, the court may order the more financially stable partner to pay a certain amount of spousal support every month. This is often called alimony or spousal maintenance, and the intent of this support is to make the divorce as fair and equitable as possible for both parties.
In fact, there are several different alternatives to this type of agreement. During a divorce proceeding, the couple has the option to negotiate and reach a mutual agreement on the amount of alimony. While most divorce cases include both parties agreeing to a fixed sum that has to be paid each month, others, decide to settle in the form of a rebalanced property division arrangement.
Why You Need an Alimony Lawyer
You need a lawyer because, regardless of whether you are paying or receiving spousal support, you will likely have significant resistance from your spouse’s legal team. We can stand up for you and give you the knowledge you need to stand up for yourself.
At the Law Office of Fedor Kozlov, P.C., we know how much spousal support can mean for you to move ahead. Our compassionate attorneys work to understand your situation and aggressively pursue the most suitable spousal support agreement possible.
Our goal is simple: to put you in the best possible financial position to have a good post-divorce life. Our challenge is complex: to balance all of the variables and conflicting interests in order to get you the opportunity you deserve.
The Illinois Alimony System
Judges consider many aspects when deciding on spousal maintenance. First, the court will decide on the type of maintenance that is appropriate. There are four general categories:
- Temporary: Temporary alimony is an interim form of maintenance. This could be appropriate for your case if there is a pressing need for support during your divorce proceedings. If you need this type of support, we would probably include it in your initial divorce filing.
- Fixed-term: Fixed-term spousal maintenance is designed to get the receiving spouse the opportunity necessary to redevelop a level of earning potential that could maintain a certain quality of life. Recipients of fixed-term alimony payments typically gave up professional or academic pursuits for the sake of the marriage.
- Indefinite: The court has the power to order indefinite maintenance for marriages that lasted over 20 years. It might also decide to order alimony for a period equal to the duration of the marriage. This type of permanent alimony is becoming more common as people begin to divorce later in life.
- Reviewable: Reviewable alimony could be understood as a hybrid of the indefinite and fixed-term types. Like fixed-term alimony, reviewable alimony is designed to help people get back on their feet. However, like indefinite alimony, most reviewable orders do not have a prescribed duration. Instead, they are contingent on good-faith efforts to proceed towards self-sufficiency.
Deciding Alimony (Duration of Spousal Maintenance)
The most common purpose of awarding alimony is to allow the homemaking or less well-off spouse to receive monetary support until they are able to get back on their feet and become financially independent. This is not always a definite amount of time.
It is hard to say on a general basis exactly how long you might pay or receive maintenance. However, there are specific conditions that signal the end of spousal support:
- The period for the payment of alimony specified by a judge expires or the independent alimony agreement expires
- The receiving party gets remarried
- Either party dies
As you can see, the easiest way to predict how long you will pay or receive alimony is to agree with your spouse on a specific duration. If you are unable to reach an independent agreement, you will have to depend on the order of a judge, your spouse being remarried, or a death to provide closure for your maintenance period. Aside from this, negotiations also have the following benefits:
- They are efficient, especially compared to time-consuming litigation procedure.
- They are less costly, as you have fewer attorney’s fees, court fees, and other administrative costs.
- They are private, whereas trials often expose the most intimate details of your marriage to the public eye.
- They are precise, allowing you to customize your maintenance and property division agreements.
How Judges Determine Alimony
When negotiation between spouses fails, judges decide whether anyone should be awarded alimony, and if so, for how long and in what amount. They do this according to Illinois Law. Before making a decision, the court considers the following factors:
- The lifestyle established during the course of the marriage
- The emotional state, physical condition, and age of the receiving spouse
- The length of the marriage
- The ability of the payer spouse to support themselves while paying the recipient spouse
- The presence of domestic violence during marriage
- The state and federal tax impact of spousal support
- Whether one spouse’s education or career was affected due to their commitment and responsibility towards the family
Each spouse is required to fully disclose their assets and financial state, and produce a statement of their net worth. It is calculated by taking the total assets and subtracting it the sum of expenses and other liabilities.
Can Men Receive Alimony?
Yes: Men can and do receive spousal maintenance in Illinois. The courts do not discriminate based on gender. As an extension, spousal maintenance is also possible in same-sex couples
Rather than looking at the gender of the spouses, judges calculate each case based on economic and practical factors. The results of that formula are tempered and modified as necessary by the consideration of any unique situation pursuant to the divorcing spouses, informed by the arguments of their attorneys.
How Much Is Alimony in Illinois?
You can undoubtedly find an abundance of calculators online that would help you estimate the dollar amount of alimony payments for the incomes in your marriage. However, please keep in mind that there are countless possible alternatives to a monthly payment — a recurring format might not be the best option in your unique situation.
Rather than look at how much people with a completely average case might receive or pay, we find that it is more productive to look at how much our clients and our clients’ spouses truly need to maintain their quality of life after marriage. We can then develop a plan that is both fairer and more appropriate for the situation than any statistic-based calculation would be.
Tax Implications of Alimony Payments
The tax situation regarding alimony payments is somewhat complex. It also changed recently. Under the previous tax scheme, paying spouses could deduct alimony payments from their taxable income. That is no longer the case. Therefore, legal teams representing high-earning spouses are now up in much more aggressive when negotiating regarding alimony awards. This also could affect modifications that expressly state the repealing of the alimony payments reduction.
Basically, you can no longer deduct any alimony payments you make under new agreements, nor do you have to pay tax on any you receive. These payments are no longer part of your gross income.
Contact Experienced Spousal Support Attorneys Today
At the Law Office of Fedor Kozlov, P.C., we help you represent your case in the best possible way to ensure that you are awarded the right spousal support to meet your needs. We shed light on the sacrifices you have made to support your family, and that you should be compensated equitably for them. Contact our Schaumburg family law office today at (847) 241-1299 to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.