Alimony and Maintenance are legal terms that refer to payments made by one spouse for the benefit of the spouse receiving the payment. Across the United States, these terms are interchangeable because some states use the term “alimony,” while other states, including Illinois, use the term “maintenance.”

Illinois state law allows a court to award support payments to either spouse “without regard to marital misconduct.” The payments are to be paid from a spouse’s property or income after the court has considered all relevant factors in the case. The state statute lists several relevant factors for determining the amount and duration of the payments:

  • The income of each spouse.
  • The needs of each spouse.
  • The present and future earning capacity of either spouse.
  • Any impairment to the future earning capacity due to one spouse foregoing education or training in order to focus on the household or the marriage.
  • The time needed for either party to secure education or training to increase future earning potential.
  • The standard of living established during the marriage.
  • The duration of the marriage.
  • The age, physical health, and emotional condition of both parties.
  • The tax consequences of dividing up the marital properties.
  • The time and money spent by one spouse helping the other to obtain education or training in their chosen field.
  • Any express agreement between the spouses, such as prenuptial agreement.

The court takes all of these factors into consideration before making a final decision on spousal support. The law states that the amount to be awarded will begin to accrue simple interest as soon as the award is made. Each order to pay spousal support has the full effect of law, and anyone who fails to make the court awarded payments may have liens levied against his or her real and personal property. However, Illinois law also states that payments are not expected to be made when the person ordered to pay them is in prison for failure to pay the alimony.

Kinds of Support

The court may order a person to pay one of several kinds of alimony. Temporary alimony is paid from one spouse to the other while the couple has ongoing divorce proceedings. This alimony may or may not continue after the divorce is final.

Rehabilitative alimony is paid to a spouse as financial support while getting the training or education needed to have a higher earning potential. Once the recipient has completed the training or education, this type of alimony usually stops.

Permanent alimony typically lasts until the death of the party making the payments or until the death or remarriage of the spouse receiving the payments. However, the person paying permanent alimony may also be able to ask the court for a modified order or a termination if either party’s circumstances change in the future.

Reimbursement alimony repays a spouse who sacrificed time or money to help the other spouse advance in his or her career.

Lump sum alimony is paid in one large payment. There are no other payments made other than the lump sum.

The state of Illinois allows for spouses to receive spousal support after reviewing several factors set out by state law. The type of alimony award differs from case to case, and the court typically makes decisions according to the specific facts of each divorce case.