Alimony In Illinois

Updated on November 12, 2020
Updated: January 17, 2023

Alimony refers to the payments you make to support and maintain your spouse's life after you have separated. The 'supporting spouse' pays alimony to the 'dependent spouse.' Alimony is also known as spousal maintenance.

Generally, the spouse that makes more money is the supporting spouse, and the other is seen as dependent. So, essentially, the spouse making less money is ‘dependent’ upon the other spouse for support and maintenance. 

Alimony, also referred to as 'spousal support,' can be temporary while a divorce is pending, or it could be a permanent award presented after the divorce proceedings are complete and enforced. Let's take a closer look at alimony in Illinois.

How do Alimonies work?

Alimony might have to be paid in the form of periodic payments, a lump-sum amount, or a property transfer. Regular alimony payments are the most common, wherein the supporting spouse has to make a monthly payment to the dependent one. Many factors are used to determine if alimony is awarded and the amount.

Alimony payments must be made until a date determined by the court or if one of the following events occur:

  • The dependent spouse remarries.
  • The dependent spouse cohabits (an arrangement where two people live together but are not married) with someone.
  • Either spouse dies. 

When alimony is awarded as a property transfer or lump-sum amount, the award cannot be undone, terminated, or modified later.

Typically, husbands and wives reach an agreement about the amount and length of alimony payments. However, if you are unable to make a mutual decision, the dependent spouse can file a motion to request alimony. The judge will set a hearing date and, based on the arguments from either side, will decide the terms. Unfortunately, turning to the courts for alimony in Illinois decision will cost you precious time and money. Perhaps the judge might decide that the spouse needs support while they reenter the workforce but might not consider them eligible for any long-term award. 

Rules of Divorce Alimony

A spouse's dependency is determined by their current annual income or their earning capacity if they are currently not employed. For instance, if one spouse is trained as a nurse but had their career on pause while they looked after the children, the judge will take this into consideration to determine the earning potential of that spouse. 

Also, you will be forced to make certain alterations to your life. For instance, if you currently work a part-time job where your pay is not high enough to meet your expenses, the court might force you to try and find full-time employment. Vocational evaluators are sometimes hired by the court to report on an unemployed or partially employed spouse's job prospects. This evaluator will assess your credentials to determine your expected future income.

how alimony works in illinois

How to Avoid Paying Alimony?

If you are the supporting partner, alimony could prove to be a massive financial strain for you. Not only are you reduced to a single income, but you also have to give away a substantial percent of your earnings to your spouse. However, this does not mean that you come up with a sneaky plan to escape your alimony payments – most likely, your approach is unethical, if not illegal.

Having said that, there are some legal ways that you can use to avoid paying loads of cash to your ex-partner every month. These are:

Proving your spouse’s infidelity

Most states do not consider unfaithful partners eligible to receive spousal support payments. 

However, do remember that your word that your partner betrayed you is not going to be anywhere near enough to tip the scales in your favor. If you are alleging infidelity, you will have to endure the burden of proof – that is, you will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that your partner was a cheater, rather than them having to prove their innocence. 

Before you file a suit against your partner, you need to compile as much incriminating evidence as possible. This could include videos and pictures that back your statement, or witnesses willing to testify in your favor. 

Of course, the final say would reside with the judge, who will determine whether your evidence was sufficient to render your spouse unfaithful, and if or how it will affect the alimony terms.

Alter your lifestyle

As we mentioned, it is the higher-earning spouse who will have to make alimony payments. So, if you know that your income is higher than your ex’s, maybe it is time to reconsider how much money you really need to get by. You could voluntarily downgrade by going for a lower-paying job, for example. 

Living lean might mean that you have to restructure and plan your budget carefully. Do not shy away from seeking advice from trusted friends and capable financial experts.

Terminate the marriage as soon as possible

One of the factors that determine the alimony amount is the length of your marriage. Generally, the longer the marriage, the higher the alimony payments. So, if you know that your marriage has hit a dead-end, do not pointlessly prolong it. The quicker your marriage ends, the less you will have pay by way of alimony. 

Keep tabs on your ex’s relationship status

Several states terminate alimony payments as soon as the recipient starts living with a new partner. This condition might even be present in your divorce decree, so make sure to through the alimony payment section with your attorney and be clear about any such clauses. 

Of course, a new marriage will put an instant end to alimony payments, so it is a smart idea to be aware of your ex’s relationship life. You could keep tabs on them through mutual friends or via your ex-spouse’s social media.

Prove that your spouse does not need alimony payments

Sometimes, spouses do not need alimony support, but in their vindictiveness, they seek those payments out anyway. In such a case, you could prove to the court that your ex-partner has sufficient financial resources. For instance, you could bring to light any information about your ex owning a large sum of money, like a stock portfolio or mutual funds. They might even be subject to a healthy inheritance amount. If so, your ex might well be able to continue their current lifestyle even without active employment. 

A forensic accountant could help you track down any assets that your spouse owns. Of course, such services do not come cheap, but they will be worth every penny if they can get you out of the mess of alimony payments and other related fees. 

alimony in illinois

How is Alimony Enforced?

You have to start making alimony payments when they are due. Usually, they begin as soon as the judge signs the divorce order. 

If you fail or refuse to make the alimony payments, the dependent spouse can file a motion against you. A hearing will be scheduled where a judge will determine why you have not been making the payments. Family law courts use a variety of tools to enforce alimony payments, and, if you lose the hearing, you could be slapped with fines and penalties. The court might also order you to pay retroactive alimony to compensate for the missed payments. 

How Can A Lawyer Help?

To conclude, alimonies are an essential aspect of divorces, and one which often causes a great deal of disagreement between the two involved parties. As the supporting partner, if you think that your spouse is worthy of alimony payments, it is best to reach an out-of-court settlement. However, if you believe that an alimony payment is unfair to you, you can always contest it legally. Since these matters are sensitive, it would be best if you did your research and hired a smart and capable lawyer for alimony in Illinois.

Our experienced Orland Park family lawyers have the knowledge to best handle your family legal matters. Tommalieh Law has been dedicated to serving people in the Chicago area for years. Contact us today in regards to divorce, alimony, child support, or any other legal questions you may have.

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