Criteria for Awarding Alimony in Illinois

The days of only the husband having to pay money for an ex-wife’s upkeep are long gone. These days, alimony can be awarded to either one of the spouses.

Courts in Illinois don’t ask for proof of fault or marital misconduct while deciding how much alimony is to be paid. There are other factors which are taken into account for deciding the specifics of the amount of alimony to be awarded, including:

  • The income and property owned by both spouses, which includes property bought after marriage and non-marital property which is owned by the spouse asking for alimony.
  • The cost of upkeep of both spouse’s individual lifestyles.
  • How much money both spouses earn or will earn in the future.
  • Whether any developments have occurred which has impeded the income of the spouse asking for alimony where the reasons include time spent on domestic duty or a choice made to give up training and education etc. because of the demands of the marriage.
  • How long the spouse asking for alimony will need to obtain employment in order to become self-supporting.
  • Standard of living at the time of marriage.
  • Length of time invested in the marriage.
  • Age and physical, mental and emotional well being of the spouses.
  • Tax considerations of dividing the property and its effect on both the spouse’s economic condition.
  • Effect of the spouse asking for alimony on the other’s education and career.
  • Prior agreements that the spouses have reached before filing for divorce.
  • Other factors that the court judges as relevant to a fair divorce settlement.

There are many cases where both spouses can support their own lifestyle. In cases like these, the court need not award alimony at all, even if one spouse’s earnings are far greater than the other’s. In such cases, marital property is often distributed in favor of the spouse with a lower income.

The alimony can be paid over different lengths of time depending on the specifics of a case. Short term alimony which is rehabilitative in nature pays for the spouse’s living expenses while they go about obtaining skills for becoming self-sufficient.

On the other hand, long term alimony may be awarded for a definite period and reviewed by the court after the period ends, when it may be terminated, continued or even increased, depending on the condition of the spouse.

There have also been cases where the alimony continues indefinitely when the spouse has a permanent disability or condition preventing them from becoming self-supporting.

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