Maintenance (formerly known as alimony) is the payment of support from one spouse to another. There are two types of maintenance: temporary and permanent maintenance. Generally, permanent maintenance will only be awarded in long-term marriages (lasting at least 20 years). For shorter marriages, temporary maintenance may be awarded. Maintenance may be paid in one payment or in installments.
Not every divorce requires the payment of spousal support. The court has discretion to order temporary or permanent maintenance to either spouse without regard to marital misconduct. The court will use a set of factors to determine whether spousal support is necessary and the amount of payments. These factors include:
- The income and property of each party
- Each party’s needs
- The present and future earning capacity of each party
- Any impairment to present and future earning power due to devotion of time to domestic duties or foregoing education or training due to the marriage
- The time necessary to enable the party seeking maintenance to acquire appropriate education, training, and employment, and whether that party is able to support herself through appropriate employment or is the custodian of a child making it appropriate that the custodian not seek employment
- The standard of living established during the marriage
- The duration of the marriage
- The age, physical and emotional condition of both parties
- Tax consequences of the property division
- Contributions and services by the party seeking maintenance to the education, training, or career of the other spouse
- Any valid agreement of the parties
- Any other equitable factor that the court deems just.
- See 750 ILCS 5/504(a) for full text of the law.
To determine the amount of the support payments, the court uses a specific formula. It is based on the length of the marriage and the income of each person. (See 750 ILCS 5/504(b-1) for full text of the law). Remember, many divorces do not end with maintenance awards.