Can You Ask for More Alimony in Illinois?

Updated on February 4, 2022
Updated: April 5, 2022

If you and your spouse are getting a divorce in Illinois, in the absence of a post-nuptial agreement or prenuptial agreement, it's guaranteed that you'll go through the process of dividing your marital property. Likewise, if you have minor children, you'll need to come to terms concerning child custody and visitation rights, and you will need to establish an appropriate amount of child support as per the Illinois child support guidelines.

Spousal maintenance is different. Unlike child custody, child support, or division of property, divorcing spouses don't legally need to address alimony as part of their divorce process. However, an award of spousal support is still appropriate under various circumstances, and spouses contemplating divorce must carefully consider whether it makes sense to pursue an alimony award.

If you want to ask for more alimony in Illinois, it's essential to seek the legal representation of an experienced divorce lawyer. The experienced divorce attorneys at Tommalieh Law have helped thousands of divorcing spouses in Lake County, Dupage County, Cook County, Kane County, and throughout Illinois get a favorable outcome and we can help you, too. To schedule a no-cost initial consultation, contact our family law firm today at (708) 232-0017.

How To Calculate Spousal Maintenance in Illinois

Statutes in Illinois clearly stipulate how to calculate spousal support. The alimony equation used is based on the duration of the marriage and each spouse's net income.

Divorce forms, a gavel, and money on a desk

The divorcing spouses can also choose their own alimony payments outside of the courts. The family law court must approve it, but it typically goes through if both spouses agree.

Guideline Method

Most alimony calculators use the guideline method to calculate spousal support. Under these alimony guidelines, there is a standard equation that is used to calculate spousal maintenance: (33.3% of paying spouse's monthly net income) – (25% of receiving spouse's monthly net income) = alimony amount paid per month. The resulting spousal maintenance payments can't be more than 40% of the paying spouse’s combined net income. This method also stipulates the duration of spousal support which is standard based on the duration of the marriage.

Non-Guideline Method

When using this, the judge decides how to calculate spousal support. The courts typically break from the guidelines when the divorcing spouses make over $500,000 per year or when one spouse already has child support or maintenance obligations from a previous marriage. If the judge chooses this method, they must outline how much maintenance must be paid under the guidelines. 

How Do You Prove You Deserve Alimony in Illinois?

Before a family law court in Illinois can consider the amount and duration of spousal support to grant in a case, the family court judge must first establish that spousal maintenance is appropriate by assessing the following factors:

  • Each party's income and property, including any marital property, awarded in the divorce proceedings
  • Each party's need for spousal support
  • Any changes in the current and future earning capacity of the spouse requesting support because of decisions made during the marriage, for instance, a stay-at-home spouse leaving their career will have a challenging time becoming financially stable following a divorce
  • The time the requesting spouse needs to get the appropriate training, education, and employment to become financially independent
  • Each party's age, emotional and physical health
  • Both parties' income, including retirement and disability benefits
  • Tax implications of property division in the divorce decree
  • Whether one party contributed to the other party's education during the marriage, and 
  • Any agreement for spousal support between the spouses

Besides the above factors, the family law court may use a standard formula as a starting point in creating the final spousal support payments. Family court judges have discretion regarding alimony, and the judge will decide the final alimony amount and duration of any award.

Learn More: What to do if Your Ex is not Paying Alimony

Can Spousal Support be Modified in Illinois?

Illinois family law courts understand that situations often change after the court issues a spousal support award, so can ask the court to modify the support amount or duration if you prove that one or more of these grounds exist.

  • Automatic termination of maintenance. In Illinois, there are three grounds that allow for automatic termination of alimony awards, including: Cohabitation, which that the recipient spouse is living with another individual in a conjugal relationship;
    • Remarriage- The judge will terminate the support order, once the supported spouse remarries; and 
    • Death of either party.
  • Non-automatic termination grounds. Sometimes, the judge may change or terminate spousal support if the requesting spouse can prove that there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the family law court created the alimony order. To prove a change in circumstances, the petitioning party can introduce any of the following evidence: A change in either party's employment status;
    • Lack of effort from the supported spouse to become self-supporting;
    • Either spouse's impairment to earning income because of a health crisis, disability, or other acceptable reason;
    • The tax implications of the maintenance payments based on the economic circumstances of the spouses;
    • The duration of the spousal support payments previously paid and remaining payment to be paid in regard to the length of the marriage;
    • The property, including divided in the divorce and retirement benefits;
    • An increase or decrease in either spouse's current income; and
    • The property either spouse gained after the court finalized the divorce proceedings.

How Can I Get More Spousal Support in Illinois?

In order for a spousal maintenance award to be increased, the recipient spouse must show there’s been a substantial change in circumstances since the last order and that the recipient spouse’s economic needs have increased. In Illinois, spousal maintenance can be ordered if one party is financially dependent on the other.

Spousal maintenance is primarily based on the recipient spouse’s financial need and the payor spouse’s ability to pay. The amount of alimony is limited to the lower of the “need” of the recipient spouse or 30-35% of the difference between the spouses’ gross incomes. Once a spousal support order’s in place, if there’s a substantial change in circumstances warranting an increase, the supported spouse can file a complaint requesting a modification.

A man meeting with a divorce attorney with an alimony payment and two wedding bands in the foreground

What constitutes a substantial change in circumstances warranting an increase in alimony? An example of why a recipient spouse may file is if the supported spouse suffered a significant decrease in their income. Or there might be an unforeseen new expense that increases their economic needs. In an alimony modification case, the paying spouse’s ability to pay and the recipient spouse's financial needs, along with the statutory support factors, are reexamined to establish whether an increase in alimony is necessary

At Tommalieh Law, our skilled Chicago family law attorneys have extensive experience in handling all types of alimony cases. We frequently represent payors and receiving spouses of spousal maintenance in pre-decree cases.

Also, our legal team frequently represents parties in alimony modification cases and appeals of the same and often represents spouses in cases that are “above alimony guidelines” where their combined gross income exceeds $500,000 per year. No matter the type of spousal maintenance case, our Chicago alimony lawyers have the expertise and strategic foresight to guarantee a favorable outcome. To schedule a free initial consultation, contact our Chicago law offices today at (708) 232-0017

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