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spousal support, Rolling Meadows family law attorneysAs you prepare for the financial impact of your divorce, you may be concerned about a possible order to pay spousal support that could put stress on your budget. Though spousal maintenance or alimony is a part of some Illinois divorces, it may not be as burdensome as you expect, especially if you work with an experienced divorce lawyer who can help you protect your financial interests.

Will Spousal Maintenance Be Included In My Illinois Divorce Order?

It is first important to note that your divorce may not include a spousal support order at all. In Illinois, maintenance is typically only awarded in cases of need, such as when there is a significant imbalance between the assets, income, and earning potential of you and your spouse that cannot be addressed equitably through the division of property alone. If your income is relatively low, or if your spouse has sufficient income to support himself or herself, chances are that you will not be ordered to pay spousal support, and you may even be able to receive it.

Duration of Spousal Support Obligations in Illinois

In most cases, you will not be ordered to pay spousal support for the rest of your life. Rather, the duration of payments will usually depend on the length of your marriage. For example, if you were married for less than five years, you would only be obligated to make maintenance payments for 20 percent of the time you were married. Only in the case of a marriage of 20 years or more would you potentially be making payments for the entire length of your marriage or indefinitely.


spousal support, Arlington Heights divorce lawyerFor many years, spousal support, or alimony, was a generally accepted part of the divorce process. When a couple decided to end their marriage, one spouse—usually the wife, statistically speaking—would be a severe financial disadvantage due to roles and responsibilities she assumed regarding the family. In most cases, the wife would also be granted primary responsibility for the couple’s children, meaning that it was even more difficult for her to obtain sufficient employment to support herself and her family. As such, the other spouse—usually the husband—would often be required to make spousal support payments, helping to ease the other party’s financial burden and making the end result of the divorce more equitable.

Changing Society, Changing Expectations

Over the last four decades or so, it has become increasingly more difficult for families to rely on a single income. This shift has been accompanied by a dramatic evolution of our cultural expectations for spouses in a marriage. Today, gender is much less of a factor for most families when determining household and family responsibilities. As times have changed, so has the state’s approach to granting spousal support or maintenance, as it is known in the law.


spousal maintenance, alimony, Rolling Meadows family law attorneyEight years. That is the average length of a marriage that ends in divorce in the United States and it is among the lowest of any country in the world. Following a divorce, state laws around the country provide that, in some cases, one spouse may need financial assistance from the other for a period of time to allow the disadvantaged party the opportunity to be self-sufficient. While spousal maintenance may seem like a reasonable option for situations involving marriages that lasted a long time, many individuals considering divorce often wonder if the same type of support may be available for shorter marriages. As with most aspects of divorce, the answer is a resounding “maybe.”

Deciding on Spousal Maintenance

No matter how long your marriage may have been, you have the right to request spousal maintenance in your divorce. Of course, it may not be granted, but there is nothing stopping you from seeking it. While the length of your marriage is a factor that the court will consider when making a decision, it is only one of many considerations. Others include the income and resources of each party, how your earning capacity was affected by your role in the marriage, how you contributed to your spouse’s career or earning capacity, your needs, those of your spouse, arrangements for your children, if any, and the likelihood and time needed for you to become self-sufficient. The court will also look at the standard of living created by the marriage and determine if you should be entitled to a maintenance award.

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