When you get a divorce, one of the questions you may have is if you will have to pay spousal maintenance, or alimony, to your ex. Unlike child support, spousal support is not an automatic obligation. The decision to mandate this payment depends on numerous factors.
In addition, the law has changed recently on the calculation of the amount you would have to pay under a spousal maintenance order. Understanding the law can help you prepare to pay alimony.
Determining if spousal maintenance is necessary
Your ex does not immediately deserve payment from you in a divorce. In making the decision if an award is necessary, the court will look at the following factors according to Illinois law:
- The length of the marriage
- Your marital standard of living
- Age, health and needs of each spouse
- The division of marital property and its tax consequences
- How much income and separate property each spouse has
- Each spouse’s capacity to earn income currently and later, and factors that affect it
So, for example, if your ex gave up work to stay at home and raise the kids or took up work to get you through medical school, you will probably owe support.
Calculating alimony in Illinois
The payment amount of spousal maintenance also depends on the above factors. The court will use a simple formula if the annual gross income of you and your ex is below $500,000 (previously only half of that). The equation is 30 percent of your gross income each year minus 20 percent of your ex’s, only if this amount along with your ex’s income is not more than 40 percent of the combined gross income of you both.
How long you will have to pay alimony is based on how long your marriage lasted. Previously, the state made divisions in five-year intervals, but now each year of marriage comes with its own number for determining the length of support.