How Long Do I Have To Pay Spousal Support In Illinois?
Besides other financial matters that a divorcing couple has to address, spousal support can be the most contentious out of them all. While parents think child support is necessary to give their children a comfortable lifestyle and take care of their needs, a spouse is usually unhappy making ongoing payments to their ex-partner.
In Illinois, a Palatine divorce lawyer will tell you that spousal support or alimony duration depends on the length of the marriage. For instance, if your marriage lasted less than five years, your spousal support should last for 20 percent of that duration. The duration increases by 4 percent for each year after the fifth year, and ends at 20 years.
Types of Spousal Support in Illinois
Before determining the spousal support you owe, you need to clarify the type first. These are the four types as per the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act:
1. Temporary Spousal Support
If your divorce is still pending, you can get temporary spousal support which will end when the separation is finalized. It can also be extended into a long-term arrangement.
2. Rehabilitative Spousal Support
This short-term arrangement is designed to support one partner as they work to get back into a solid financial position. They also get job training and take classes while getting that support in most cases.
3. Fixed Term Spousal Support
A fixed-term support plan lasts for a predetermined duration which is determined as per the length of the marriage.
4. Indefinite Spousal Support
Indefinite or permanent spousal support is usually granted to a spouse if their marriage lasts 20 years or more.
The whole issue can also be taken care of with a single, large payment which has to be part of the divorce settlement. For instance, the receiving spouse can forego that right by requesting a broader divorce agreement.
The Effect of the Duration of Marriage on Spousal Support
Most people concerned with how long they have to pay spousal support or alimony are typically focused on long-term or fixed varieties. Illinois has general regulations in place that determine the length of that support:
- A marriage that lasted for five years or less – a year of spousal support.
- A marriage that lasted between five and 10 years – 1.5 to 4 years if spousal support.
- A marriage that lasted between 10 and 20 years – 4.5 to 16 years of spousal support.
- A marriage that lasted for more than two decades – Indefinite spousal support.
As you can see, the duration of the support is directly proportional to the marriage length. The state uses a formula to determine this, but family court judges can also use their discretion if they think it is appropriate.
How Spousal Support is Determined in Court
Contrary to popular belief, spousal support is not meant to be a punishment on the paying spouse for the breakdown of the marriage. As per Illinois law, marital misconduct is not taken into account. Instead, the support is meant to help spouses with the money or financial resources they need to maintain the standard of living they are used to.
So if one spouse earns more than the other, they have no trouble maintaining that lifestyle compared to the other. The latter may ask the former to support them financially until they get back on their feet and live life without them. The money can fulfill ongoing needs as they pursue an education or get job training to support themselves eventually.
That is not to say that every ex can get spousal support. Family judges practice discretion when awarding the type they think is suitable. They first listen to both spouses and use the information they get to determine which type of spousal maintenance should be granted. Some of the factors they look into include the following:
Income and Property of Both Parties
This includes marital assets and other assets that both parties own separately or jointly. Income sources are also considered, including any income from a property they own or will own post-divorce (such as rental units). Besides this, the court also looks into each spouse’s financial commitments, such as child support or spousal support from a previous relationship.
Each Party’s Requirements
The court will also consider both party’s ongoing expenses. This includes mortgage payments, rent, utility bills, debts, and other costs they need to cover. The expenses will be based on the amount each spouse needs to maintain a standard of living they are used to while they were married. They will also look at how the couple’s age and health affect their needs.
Each Party’s Existing and Future Earning Ability
Besides looking at what each spouse earns currently, Illinois family court judges also consider whether they need additional training, work experience, or an education.
It helps them figure out if the spouse who needs support is impaired in their ability to earn a decent income and support themselves on their own post-divorce. This is common for spouses who spend most of their married life looking after the house and family and were unable to pursue an education or career opportunities.
A family judge will also consider whether a spouse who cannot support themselves will need time to pursue higher education or employment training that can help them down the line.
Decisions Based On Parental Responsibilities and Parenting Time
The court understands that a spouse’s responsibility for child care may hurt their ability to get gainful employment or education. This is the case if they have children with special needs or require 24/7 supervision.
A spouse that remained at home to take care of their children will likely wish to maintain that status post-divorce. To do that, they will require financial aid from their ex-partner and ensure they can keep taking care of their children.
Contributions for Career Opportunities
In some cases, spouses support one another as they advance in their careers to increase their household income. One partner may have paid for the education of the other or aided them with educational activities or homework. They may also have assisted their spouse by taking over household responsibilities so their partner can devote their time towards their professional growth.
Couples who have a premarital agreement (such as a post or prenuptial agreement) confirm whether spousal support will be paid or not and its duration if it is to be paid in case of a divorce. However, nothing is set in stone as far as Illinois family courts are concerned. If the terms of the agreement are harsh or would cause undue hardship for a spouse after the separation due to unforeseeable circumstances, spousal support may still be awarded.
The divorce tax consequences will also be considered when the court is determining spousal support obligations. The judge may adjust the amount to prevent financial hardships on both parties.
The fact is that each divorce is unique. While some factors may affect one partner more than others, some circumstances can be game-changers. In some cases, both spouses may report extraordinary circumstances that may affect their ability to support themselves post-divorce. They may ask the court to consider those issues before spousal support is awarded.
Contact the Law Office of Fedor Kozlov for Spousal Support Consultation
We understand the sacrifices you have made for your family and ensure you are compensated for them. Our family attorneys come highly recommended in Palatine because of their in-depth knowledge about the state’s family law and handling each case with a high level of professionalism.
Besides providing much-needed legal advice, we also work hard to ensure that our clients’ entire divorce experience is as seamless as possible. We will ensure it is as smooth and as painless as possible for you and your family. We have been defending our clients’ rights for more than a decade, and unlike other law firms, we provide custom strategies that can have long-term benefits.
Since we only practice family law here, we are more than capable of handling complex cases and providing expert legal advice that you can use. Whether you need legal help for asset division, domestic violence, equity division, tax implications, debt division, business division, or your divorce in general, we will help any way we can.
Besides providing legal advice, we strive to make the experience as smooth as possible. We understand that divorce can be one of the most traumatic experiences you can go through and are here to help any way we can. Get in touch with us for a free consultation today, and we will help you realize a better and happier future. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you have any queries or need to book a consultation in an emergency. We are here to put your mind at ease.
If you or someone you know wishes to get a divorce and are confused about the spousal support you should get or give, call the Law Office of Fedor Kozlov, P.C. for a consultation by dialing (847) 241-1299. We will assign a competent, experienced, compassionate Palatine divorce lawyer to your case.