Wakeman Law Group, PC Legal Blog

Will a dependent spouse get alimony post-divorce in Illinois?

On Behalf of | Jul 18, 2023 | Divorce

When one spouse gives up their earning potential for the family unit, they often do so with the expectation that they will remain married to their spouse. They expect to receive financial support to offset lost income and earning potential generated by their decision to leave the workforce.

Whether someone only works basic, part-time jobs so that they are home with the children most of the time or they don’t work at all to take care of the marital home and the family, they will likely not have the resources required to live independently after filing for divorce.

Can a dependent spouse in Illinois expect that the family courts will grant them alimony, which state statutes call spousal maintenance, so that they can cover their living expenses?

Alimony is an option but is not automatic

When people with children divorce, the creation of child support obligations is effectively automatic, as the parents have a direct responsibility to the children in the household that the other adult cannot waive on their behalf. However, alimony or maintenance is not an automatic right. Instead, the individual requesting financial support from their spouse will need to demonstrate both that they need that support and also that their spouse is capable of paying that support, unless the spouses agree to an alimony arrangement as part of an uncontested divorce process.

Illinois has rules regarding the amount of maintenance that someone can receive, which is a reflection of the earning potential of both spouses. The state also has specific rules related to how long support payments last after a divorce. The length of the marriage largely influences how many months of maintenance someone can expect after a divorce. Those who had shorter marriages usually only qualify for short-term rehabilitative maintenance while they attempt to rebuild their careers or go back to school.

Those who have stayed married for more than 20 years can sometimes qualify for longer-lasting maintenance, particularly in circumstances where they likely cannot support themselves, such as situations where the dependent spouse has severe health issues or will have primary custody of a shared child with special needs who cannot live independently. Barring those unusual scenarios, most people in Illinois will only receive temporary maintenance.

Learning more about the unique rules that apply during divorce in Illinois can help people plan for a happier future after their divorce proceedings. Seeking legal guidance is a good place to start.