Economic partnership is an unromantic but critical part of marriage. The longer a couple is married, the more intertwined their finances become. Their standard of living is dependent on one another, especially if one spouse gave up career prospects to raise a family, and when one spouse earns significantly more than the other, divorce can be financially devastating.
Illinois law provides support for divorced spouses in the form of spousal support, also known as alimony or spousal maintenance. While spousal support is not awarded in every divorce, it is often given when one spouse needs time to get back on their feet financially. Sometimes a couple has been married for so long that a person’s age, lack of education, or lack of work history makes it virtually impossible for them to become financially independent. When this happens, an Illinois court may order permanent alimony.
Understanding Spousal Support in Illinois
While spouses can agree on spousal support payments in a prenuptial agreement, the most common way that spousal support is awarded is through a judge’s order. Prenuptial agreements are relatively common in Millennial marriages, but couples who have been married for two decades or more are far less likely to have a prenup. Even if a couple has a prenup expressly giving up spousal support, a significant change in circumstances, like a disability, could make the prenup’s terms so unfair that an Illinois judge could throw out the prenup and award spousal support anyway.
When a judge decides whether to award spousal support, she must consider the couple’s unique circumstances. The law allows judges to take into account many factors, including:
- How long the spouses were married
- The marital standard of living
- Each spouse’s education, income, work history, and future earning potential
- Each spouse’s health, age, and financial needs
- Whether one spouse has an impairment, disability, or other circumstances that would prevent them from becoming financially independent
- Whether one spouse gave up career prospects to raise children and maintain the marital home
Can Alimony Be Permanently Awarded?
While most spousal support payments are set for a specific period of time or are periodically reviewed by the court, spouses who have been married for more than 20 years or who have circumstances that prevent them from becoming financially independent may receive indefinite spousal support. When a judge orders indefinite alimony payments, she will consider other income or access to money that a spouse has, such as social security, when determining a payment that would be fair.
It is important to note that, even if a spouse was awarded permanent spousal support, if he or she gets remarried or lives with a new intimate partner, spousal support payments automatically end.
Call a Wheaton, IL Alimony Lawyer
For help with your divorce, including pursuing or defending against a case for indefinite spousal support payments, get the help of the skilled legal team at Andrew Cores Family Law Group. We offer free consultations so you can meet our experienced DuPage County alimony attorneys and see how we could create a strategy to set you up for an equitable outcome. Call us today at 630-871-1002.