When you begin the divorce process, there are many concerns that arise. Some of the more important elements include child custody, child support, and spousal support. You may be worried whether there will be enough money to cover expenses and if you can keep your family home.
Awarding spousal maintenance in an Illinois divorce case is based on need, and contrary to popular belief, it is gender neutral. Support awards are not designed to punish one spouse or unfairly reward the other. These payments are meant to assist the spouse who is the lower earner as they transition from married to single life again.
If you have questions or need assistance with spousal maintenance, it is important to speak with a knowledgeable Illinois alimony attorney. Here is a general guide on what courts look at when deciding if, and how much, support to award:
Earning Potential of Each Spouse
One of the first things the courts look at is earning capacity, even if one person is not currently employed. Some people consider changing to a lower-paying job, thinking they would not have to pay more in alimony, but that is not how it works. If the judge determines you could earn significantly more, you could still be ordered to pay more.
Marital Standard of Living
The courts will also look at what the standard of living was while a couple was married. The idea is to help both parties achieve a standard of living that was similar to what it was during the marriage.
Duration of Marriage
The length of marriage also plays a role in the determination of alimony. If the marriage lasted one or two years, the award may be a low amount, especially when compared to a couple that was married for decades.
Contribution to the Household
Stay-at-home spouses are eligible for spousal support depending on the overall contribution they made to the household. Any sacrifices made to help further a spouse’s career, thus making them the higher wage earner, are considered in the determination.
Physical Condition, Age, and Emotional Status
A judge will also look at each spouse’s individual condition. Age can be an important factor in determining the amount of spousal support. This is especially important if one party is close to retirement but plans to return to school or train to start learning a new trade. If one spouse has emotional and/or physical disabilities, this could impact the award since they might not be able to maintain a full-time job to sustain themselves.
Changes to Alimony in 2019
This year brought some changes to how alimony is awarded and taxed in Illinois. Now, 25 percent of the recipient’s net income is deducted from 33.33 percent of the payor’s net income in order to reach a total for spousal maintenance.
New tax rules are in play for alimony this year as well. Previously the spouse paying alimony could deduct the expense from their federal taxes and the recipient spouse had to claim as taxable income. Now, there is no tax deduction and the recipient does not pay income tax on it.
Contact a Lisle Family Law Attorney
If you have questions about spousal maintenance or need assistance pursuing it in your divorce, contact Momkus LLC at 630-434-0400 to schedule a consultation. Our dedicated DuPage County family law attorneys are eager to help you today.