What about alimony?


In Illinois alimony is officially referred to as maintenance and is sometimes called spousal support. The alimony rules in Illinois changed at the beginning of 2015 with another slight change at the beginning of 2016. Alimony is not automatic, and whether you are seeking alimony from your spouse or your spouse is seeking alimony from you, it is vital to present your case in a clear concise manner which addresses the factors the Judge is required to consider. The initial hurdle for either proving or defending against maintenance is that the Judge must first decide if alimony is appropriate in your specific situation. To do this the Court considers specific factors some of which include the following:

  • The income and property of each party;
  • The financial needs of each party;
  • The realistic present and future earning capacity of each party;
  • Any impairment of earning capacity of the party seeking maintenance due to that party devoting time to domestic duties;
  • Any impairment of earning capacity of the party against whom maintenance is sought;
  • The time necessary to acquire appropriate education, training, and employment, and any parental responsibility arrangements and its effect on the party seeking employment;
  • The standard of living established during the marriage;
  • The duration of the marriage; and
  • Contributions and services by the party seeking maintenance to the education, training, career or career potential, or license of the other spouse.

If the Judge decides that alimony is appropriate, and unless the Judge decides to deviate from the guidelines, or in cases of very high incomes, in most cases the Judge will apply specific guidelines to determine the amount and duration of alimony to be paid. These guidelines are as follows:

Amount:The Judge takes 30% of payor’s gross income minus 20% of recipient’s gross income, but in no event shall the recipient get more than 40% of the total combined gross income. So, if payor makes $60,000 annually and recipient makes $20,000 annually, alimony would be calculated as follows

$60,000 * 30% = $18,000
Less: $20,000 * 20% = $4,000
Equals: $14,000

However, as 40% of the combined gross incomes ($60K + $20K) equals only $32,000, and a $14,000 annual award would give the recipient a total of $34,000 ($20K + $14K), the award is limited to $12,000 annually so the recipient does not receive more than 40% of the combined gross.

Duration:The duration of alimony is generally based on the following:

Length of Marriage (through filing) Duration of Maintenance
5 years or less 20% length of marriage
5 to 10 years 40% length of marriage
10 to 15 years 60% length of marriage
15 to 20 years 80% length of marriage
More than 20 Permanent or length of marriage

As a Family Lawyer with more than 22 years of experience I understand how the factors that the Court must consider when deciding if alimony is appropriate and if the guidelines should be deviated from are best presented to the Judge in order to obtain the results desired. At the Law Office of Warren G. Sylvester, P.C., over the years I have focused my practice on protecting the financial stability of my clients.