Are you in the process of getting divorced and want to know how spousal support is calculated? Check out this short video with me and Chicago divorce attorney Mark Schondorf.
Hey, Barry here with the LawFull channel. In this video, I sit down with Mark to provide you some information on how alimony or spousal support is calculated.
So, what is spousal support? Spousal support, which is often called alimony, is money paid from one spouse to another after a divorce. The idea of alimony is to maintain the lifestyle that the other spouse enjoyed during the relationship.
Spousal support applies to men and women equally. So, if the husband was making more than the wife, he may have to pay spousal support and vice versa, a wife may have to pay spousal support to her husband.
Spousal support is not guaranteed in Illinois. But every state is different. So I encourage you to look at your state’s laws on alimony.
What are the factors in determining alimony? The factors in Illinois to look to determine whether a spouse will have to pay alimony include:
What are the spouses’ current income?
What is their potential income?
How much non-marital property does the spouse seeking support have?
How much marital property will the spouse seeking support get in the divorce?
So hypothetically, if the spouse seeking support has a lot of money, it is very possible that the other spouse will not have to pay spousal support.
Also, if both parties make similar income, it is likely that neither spouse will have to pay spousal support.
But things are changing in this field as women continue to make more and more money. But there is a classic alimony situation that Mark still sees:
A young couple gets married with no kids, then they have kids and the wife stays home to raise them. The husband is in the work force and advances and continues to make more and more money.
The wife meanwhile remains at home, does not have a job and does not advance her career and/or make more and more money.
In this “traditional” spousal support situation, the husband pays spousal support.
How long does spousal support go on for? Does alimony go on forever?
The answer is, it depends on the laws of the state you are in.
In Illinois, there is a table that determines how long spousal support goes on for. Very generally speaking, if the marriage lasted 5 years or less, then a spouse will be entitled to 20% of the time of the marriage in alimony – or one year.
If the marriage lasted 15 or 16 years etc., then the spouse might be entitled to 80 or 90% of the marriage in years of support.
After 20 years, the court might award 100% of the time of the marriage in support, or 20 years. The court may also award support indefinitely.
Is spousal support modifiable? In Illinois spousal support is modifiable upon a substantial change in circumstances. Meaning, if the spouse receiving spousal support gets a job and ends up making a lot of money, the spouse paying support might petition to have the support payment reduced.
Also, losing a job might be grounds for modifying spousal support as well.
Is alimony avoidable? It might be. In Illinois you can agree in a divorce decree that spousal support is non-modifiable. In that case, it may stick no matter what happens.
Are there alternatives to paying spousal support? There are. The parties in Illinois can enter into a “maintenance buyout” which provides the spouse a large chunk of money or property up front, thus terminating the obligation for spousal support.
Are there times when spousal support might end sooner than expected? There are. For example, if one of the parties dies in Illinois, that will terminate the payments.
And again if one spouse gets a great paying job, then spousal support may no longer be needed.
Finally, in Illinois, if one spouse starts cohabitating with a significant other on a conjugal basis, meaning truly living together, that might be grounds to end alimony payments.