Alimony, also known as spousal support, is one of the more contentious issues in many divorces. Many spouses who are being supported feel that they are owed for their contributions to the marriage, while many supporting spouses do not relish the idea of having to continue to support someone they are no longer married to. While recent changes to divorce law in Illinois will make awarding alimony a more streamlined process, it can still be beneficial to understand the different types of alimony and the theories behind them. Spousal support can be broken down into two groups based on whether it is expected to be a temporary arrangement or a permanent one.
Time-limited alimony is one that the court does not expect the supporting spouse to pay out forever. For instance, courts often award a temporary alimony during the divorce process. Divorces may take some time to finalize in court, so the court wants to ensure that both the spouses have the ability to meet expenses during the process. This type of alimony will eventually be replaced once the divorce is finalized.
The other type of time-limited alimony is rehabilitative spousal support. This is alimony paid out to a spouse so that the spouse has time to get back on his or her feet. The goal of this support is not to support the spouse for the rest of his or her life. Instead, it simply gives the spouse time to find a job or get a degree so that he or she can work for him or herself and still keep the lifestyle that he or she has become accustomed to. The new guidelines for spousal support strongly encourage this kind of alimony.
The other type of alimony differs from temporary alimony in that there is no time limit running . Instead, the court expects the alimony to last indefinitely. The most basic type of this alimony is permanent, periodic alimony. This is a monthly or bimonthly payment from supporting spouse to supported spouse with the goal of keeping him or her living the sort of lifestyle that he or she got used to during the marriage. Unlike rehabilitative alimony, which is designed to eventually allow the supported spouse to earn enough money that he or she does not need the added income, permanent periodic alimony is used in cases where the supported spouse cannot reasonably be expected to achieve that, usually due to a particularly long marriage. There is also a reviewable form of permanent alimony that allows courts to periodically review whether it is still necessary and make changes as the situation warrants.
If you are thinking about seeking a divorce and would like to know more about the process, seek out an experienced Wheaton family law attorney. Our firm is here to help answer your questions and to guide you down the best path for your situation.