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UPDATE: Spousal Support 101 in Illinois

Posted on in Spousal Maintenance

Naperville divorce attorneyOriginally posted: October 16, 2017 -- Updated: 11.9.2021

Changes to federal tax laws in 2019 changed the way that spousal support is taxed in Illinois and throughout the U.S. Before 2019, spousal maintenance payments were tax-deductible for the payor. The recipient spouse could claim alimony or spousal support payments as taxable as income. Presently, spousal maintenance is not deductible from the income of the payer spouse. Additionally, the receiving spouse cannot include maintenance payments as income on their taxes.

Divorce can have a massive financial impact - especially when a divorcing spouse is dependent on their soon-to-be-ex-’s income. The purpose of spousal support or spousal maintenance is to offset the negative financial impact of divorce. Maintenance payments can give a stay-at-home parent or non-working spouse time to gain the job skills or education needed to be financially independent.

Family law statutes are constantly changing. If you intend to pursue spousal support in your divorce, it is important to know the most current laws so you can make an informed decision. Speak to a skilled divorce attorney for help. ______________________________________________________________________________________

Given the changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) in the last few years, it can be confusing to get a straight answer about the requirements and regulations on issues like parenting time, property disposition, and spousal support. The latter is perhaps the most often misunderstood, especially since the recent revisions to the IMDMA. Considering that many divorces involve someone paying spousal support, doing your research is important.

Support Is Usually Temporary

Spousal support—previously known as alimony—is granted only when a judge has been convinced that you are in need of it, and with rare exceptions, it will be granted for a term of years, rather than indefinitely. Spousal support is granted or denied after a judge has weighed all the relevant factors and determined whether there is need. Factors that a judge may consider include current and future earning potential, the standard of living established during the marriage, and any previously executed valid prenuptial agreement, though there are many other issues that may play into a decision.

The main factor in the decision will most often be how long the marriage lasted. Most of the time, if a marriage did not last beyond 4 or 5 years, maintenance will not be awarded unless circumstances are somewhat extraordinary. If a marriage lasted 20 years or more, spousal support is much more likely to be granted, because one spouse may have not earned money for themselves in that period of time, or otherwise not be able to enter the workforce again right away.

Types of Illinois Maintenance

There are multiple types of spousal support provided for in Illinois law, but the most commonly awarded is the “rehabilitative” or short-term type. Rehabilitative maintenance is intended to be used by the recipient toward some kind of work or training that will improve the person’s ability to support themselves. (Child support is an entirely separate issue from spousal support; regardless of the outcome of a maintenance request, children are entitled to support from both parents.) When the course or training is completed, maintenance will usually stop. A type of maintenance referred to as “reviewable” maintenance sometimes will be awarded if the former spouse still cannot adequately support themselves, but will likely be able to in the future - this can extend a person’s term receiving support, but it will not be permanent.

The other types of maintenance are much less common but still are awarded in less common situations. Temporary maintenance is granted by the court when a party’s financial situation is severe, such as in instances where eviction is a possibility, and generally lasts only for the term of the divorce proceedings. Long-term or permanent maintenance is only granted if a person can be shown to be unable to support themselves even with a period of rehabilitative maintenance.

Contact a Divorce Attorney

Spousal support can be a complex issue to work out, even if you do not involve a judge or court. If you have questions, it is generally best to consult an experienced DuPage County family law attorney. Call 630-352-2240 for a confidential consultation at Pesce Law Group, P.C. today.



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