Alimony in Illinois – What You Need to Know!     

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Alimony in Illinois – What You Need to Know!


The emotional toll entailed in a divorce is only one of the things endured by spouses.

Divorce and Alimony in Illinois bring out a lot of questions and cause extreme stress for both ex-spouses. Although you can read up and do it on your own, consulting a lawyer will take a huge amount of worry off your shoulders.

Alimony is the legal obligation of the ex-husband or wife to financially support an ex-spouse.

Who is Eligible for Alimony in Illinois?

There are many things both spouses need to agree on and one of them is the alimony or divorce maintenance. Alimony in Illinois is governed by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.

Spousal support or alimony in Illinois is limited to legally married couples. In 2014, same-sex marriage became legal in Illinois as governed by the “Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act” (PA 98-0597, so either spouse of this marriage is also eligible for alimony.

Alimony in Illinois is given when there is a big difference between the incomes of spouses.

It is common to hear that it is the male spouse who gives alimony. Truth is that the spouse with the bigger income pays alimony to the other so they are financially equal when their marriage ends.

Either the wife or husband can ask for alimony. The ex-couples can agree to the amount of alimony. If they don’t, they will have to argue it in court and the judge determines the amount of alimony.

It is not always that an ex-spouse will have to pay alimony. Giving or seeking alimony depends on several factors and is decided on a case-to-case basis by family courts.

The family courts have the sole discretion of determining if alimony should be given, if they decide it should, the courts will need to determine the amount of the alimony based on the Illinois laws.

The family courts take into consideration these factors when deciding if alimony is appropriate and before calculating alimony.

  • Length of the marriage 
  • Needs of each spouse
  • Assets and income of each spouse
  • Ability to earn of each spouse
  • Standard of living created during the marriage
  • Each spouse’s contribution to the marriage
  • Tax considerations

There are other factors to consider, too such as if one spouse gave up a career to keep house and take care of the children.

Types of Alimony in Illinois 

There are five main types of alimony in Illinois:

1.      Temporary. 

This gives the spouse receiving alimony some time to get back on his / her feet while the divorce is still pending in court.

This type of alimony aims to take care of the living costs and expenses and is given to a spouse when they are living in separately during the divorce action.

2.     Fixed-Term.

This type of alimony is awarded for a set time frame until the spouse becomes self-sufficient.

This is appropriate in these circumstances when a spouse had to give up a career, education, or work opportunities to take care of the home and children.  

This is a type of alimony that also applies when a spouse has limited earning potential and needs to obtain training or education to maintain the standard of living she/ he is accustomed to.

3.     Reviewable.

This is somewhat similar to fixed-term alimony. It is not, however, not given for a specific timeframe but is subject to periodic judicial review by the court.

4.     Permanent.

This pertains to alimony given for the remainder of the life of the receiving spouse or the period equal to the length of the marriage. This is only appropriate in divorces for marriages that lasted 20 years or longer.

5.     Lump-sum.

In Illinois, this refers to a one-time payment. The receiving spouse is paid the amount of money needed for all of the alimony obligations. 

Amount of Alimony

 The basic formula to compute the alimony in Illinois is simple:

(33% of the paying spouse’s net income) – (25% of the receiving spouse’s net income) = The yearly amount of alimony.

The only condition to this formula is that the receiving spouse should not earn more than 40% of the spouses’ combined income. 

How is the Alimony Paid?

Alimony in Illinois, like in most states, are to be paid monthly. The court typically issues an income withholding order to the employer of the paying spouse.

The employer directly deducts the alimony amount from the paying spouse’s paycheck and routes it directly to the receiving spouse.

Some paying spouses who can afford it opt to make a lump-sum payment instead of paying monthly alimony for years. In certain cases, the paying spouse can pay alimony through personal properties.

If you are receiving monthly alimony and your ex-spouse misses out on payments, you can go to court and file a contempt of court action against your ex-spouse. 

When is Alimony Terminated?

Alimony in Illinois is permanent and in some cases temporary. The paying spouse needs to give monthly alimony or be taken to court for contempt.

Alimony, however, can be terminated when there are some substantial changes in the life of the receiving spouse such as:

  • Remarrying
  • Cohabitating with a new partner
  • A substantial change in circumstances was unforeseen at the time of the alimony order.

Illinois courts determine whether the alimony payments need to be continued or modifications are made to the original agreement.

Read more:

Divorce Mediation Checklist


Patricia Godwin

Patricia has many years of experience as a content writer on various subjects, and she is the Editor of Lifestyle Divorce. Patricia’s worked as the Practice Manager at an International Divorce and Family law firm for over 15 years. She is a qualified Counsellor, and she has had many counselling sessions with people considering or going through a divorce.

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