At the end of a marriage, there may be few issues more contentious than alimony. Alimony, also called spousal support or spousal maintenance, is not a guarantee in a divorce. Nevertheless, your circumstances may qualify you for spousal support at least for long enough to get you back on your feet after your divorce.
Spousal maintenance is a tool the courts may use to even the odds between a divorcing couple whose financial situations are unfairly off balance. If your spouse has considerably more assets than you or better opportunities for earning, you may wish to seek spousal support as part of your divorce order.
Do I qualify for maintenance?
The purpose of spousal maintenance is to provide financial assistance to one spouse who may otherwise struggle in the months or years following a divorce. For example, you may have left the workforce to raise children or support your spouse’s career, suffer from a health condition that prevents you from working, or require additional skills or education before you can return to a previous career.
In most cases, Illinois family courts determine maintenance amounts based on a complex formula, but the answers to the following questions may result in a higher or lower amount:
- How long were you married?
- How old are you?
- What is the state of your physical and emotional health and the health of your ex?
- How long would you need to obtain the training or education to be able to support yourself?
- What standard of living were you accustomed to during your marriage?
- What can your former spouse afford to pay while maintaining his or her own standard of living?
Many maintenance orders have a termination date, but if a court should award you alimony for a lifetime, you may want to make sure your ex carries a life insurance policy or provides for your continued support through an estate plan.
Who gets alimony?
Spousal maintenance is no longer limited to former housewives whose husbands were the breadwinners. More often these days, both spouses work, and it is not uncommon for a divorce order to require a wife to pay an ex-husband support. Additionally, the sex of the supporting spouse is not much of an issue since the legalization of same-sex marriages.
Each case has its own unique factors, and your divorce likely has elements that may affect your right to spousal maintenance. Obtaining the support you need may mean the difference between a successful post-divorce life and years of financial struggle.