Spousal support, or alimony, can be a contentious subject. Unlike some other states, spousal support in Illinois does not depend on fault or marital misconduct. Rather, the court may use statutory guidelines that became effective January 1, 2015 to determine the amount of support you owe to your spouse.
If you are going through a divorce in Glenview, Gurnee, Lake Forest, Zion, Grayslake, Libertyville, or elsewhere in Northern Illinois, Matthew Stanton can help you through this difficult process. To ensure the court has all of the information required to determine the appropriateness of spousal support, hire an experienced attorney like Matthew Stanton.
The judge presiding over your divorce has discretion in deciding whether or not to order spousal support. In deciding whether or not to award it, the judge will take into account the length of the marriage, your standard of living during the marriage, and the income of you and your spouse. The court may also consider what opportunities each spouse gave up for the marriage and the amount of time a spouse may need to get the training or education they need to become financially independent.
After deciding that spousal support is required for you or your spouse, the judge will then determine its amount. If the combined income of both parties is under $250,000, the judge must follow the new statutory guidelines to determine the level of support and its duration. If the combined income exceeds that figure, the court has greater discretion in awarding support. The court may also award temporary support during the proceedings, which will cease when the divorce is finalized.
If the combined income of both parties is under $250,000 and there are no multiple family situations, the court will apply the statutory guidelines for spousal support. The statute does not clearly define a multiple family situation, but it is likely that our state legislature referred to situations where a divorcing spouse already owed support to a previous family.
The first calculation in determining spousal support takes 30% of the paying spouse’s gross income and subtracts 20% of the receiving spouse’s income. This amount will be the amount of the annual payments to spouse in need of support. It cannot exceed 40% of combined income of both parties, and will be reduced if it does.
Once the level of support is determined by the above calculation, the court will then determine its length. This is done by multiplying the number of years the spouses were married by the applicable statutory factor, which depends on the length of the marriage.
The factors are:
.20 for marriages of 0 to 5 years
.40 for marriages of 5 to 10 years
.60 for marriages of 10 to 15 years
.80 for marriages of 15 to 20 years
1 for marriages exceeding 20 years, or permanent support
Thus, if you are married to your spouse for six years, the duration of support will be determined by multiplying six and the statutory factor of .4. In this example, you will be on the hook for 2.4 years of spousal support at the rate determined by the statutory scheme.
If the parties combined income exceeds $250,000 a year, the court has the discretion to award support outside of the statutory scheme.
In deciding this type of spousal support, the court may consider:
Both spouses’ income and property, including their property after the marital property is distributed.
Financial needs of each spouse
Each spouse’s present and future earning capacity
Any detriment to either spouse’s earning capacity due to domestic duties or the marriage. This can include giving up on education or employment during the marriage
Time necessary for spouse seeking support to obtain the training or employment necessary to become self-supporting. If this spouse is caring for children, this may not be required of them.
Standard of living during marriage
Duration of marriage
Age and physical and emotional condition of each spouse
Tax consequences of the property division
Contributions by spouse seeking support to the other spouse’s education, training, or career
Valid agreements of the parties
Other factors court believes are fair and equitable.
As you can see, the determination of spousal support can be a difficult and lengthy process. Although the new statutory scheme for spousal support is designed to lessen the angst that accompanies these situations, disagreements between divorcing spouses are virtually inevitable.
A veteran attorney like Matthew Stanton will make this process easier on you by acting as a levelheaded advocate for your rights. If you are going through a divorce in Northern Illinois, including in the communities of Barrington Hills, Highland Park, Lake Zurich, Lake Forest, Deerfield, or Northfield, do not hesitate to contact him for a free consultation.