In Illinois, a family court may award spousal support — also known as maintenance — in any proceeding for dissolution of marriage, legal separation, declaration of invalidity of marriage or dissolution of a civil union. The court can determine that spousal support is justified based on either spouse’s financial need, without considering any marital misconduct or the reason for the divorce. But state law provides specific guidelines for how long spousal support is to be paid.
If the court decides that a maintenance award is appropriate, the duration of the award is determined by how long the marriage has lasted. The court’s order will require that spousal support be paid for a period of time equal to a certain percentage of the length of the marriage. The longer the marriage, the higher the percentage assigned and the longer maintenance payments must be made.
The assigned percentage starts at 20 percent (for a marriage lasting less than five years) and increases by 4 percent for every year. For marriages of 20 years or more, the court can order that spousal support be paid for a term equal to 100 percent of the length of the marriage or for an indefinite term.
If the court orders maintenance payments be made for a fixed term, the order will state a termination date. Courts can also make a fixed-term maintenance order reviewable, which means it can be re-evaluated before the termination date. If the court grants indefinite maintenance, then support payments will continue until the order is modified or terminated.
Spousal support orders can be modified due to a change in income for either party or to another significant occurrence. In addition, payments may be ordered to end early in defined situations, such as when the spouse receiving payments remarries or cohabitates with a significant other or when either party passes away.
You should fully understand your rights and responsibilities when it comes to spousal support before entering into any agreements during separation or divorce. Consult a family law attorney before making decisions about maintenance, property division, custody, parenting time, living arrangements or child custody.
The family law attorney at the Law Offices of Paul Chatzky has comprehensive experience representing clients in Illinois divorce proceedings before the court in Chicago, Skokie and in other suburban District Courts. We will counsel you throughout the process and work toward obtaining a fair spousal support order, whether you will be the party receiving or making payments. Call us at 847-416-1646 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation.
Born in Havana, Cuba, Paul Chatzky is fluent in Spanish and English, enabling him to effectively represent a wider range of individuals and families. He is AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell®, and is listed among Illinois Super Lawyers, which is a reflection of his high ethical standards and exceptional legal knowledge. As a…
Prior to joining the firm as a paralegal, Debbie was employed by major banking institutions as a loan processor and as an executive secretary. Debbie was also employed as an administrative assistant for the Board of Jewish Education. Having majored in Sociology, Debbie graduated from the University of Florida in 1980. Debbie completed her studies…