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How is the Duration of Alimony Determined in Illinois?

 Posted on August 24,2023 in Spousal Maintenance

IL divorce lawyerDivorce can take an emotional and financial toll on both parties involved. For couples with income disparities, alimony helps ensure the lower-earning spouse maintains financial stability. Illinois has guidelines for alimony duration, but judges consider unique circumstances when making final decisions.

Calculating Alimony Duration in Illinois

Illinois utilizes a formula to calculate alimony duration based on the length of the marriage. For marriages lasting less than five years, alimony payments typically continue for 20 percent of the time the couple is married.

For marriages between five and 20 years, the percentage used to determine alimony duration increases incrementally based on the total years married. A marriage lasting five to six years would result in alimony payments over 24% of the time married. A six- to seven-year marriage equals alimony for 28 percent of the duration. The percentage keeps increasing up until marriages lasting 15 to 20 years.

For long-term marriages of 20 years or more, alimony may continue for either the entire length of the marriage or an indefinite period, depending on circumstances. So for a 25-year marriage, alimony could last 25 years or indefinitely at the judge's discretion.

It is important to note that this formula is intended as a guideline rather than a strict rule. Illinois judges can adjust the alimony duration based on each divorce case's specific details. The formula provides a starting point but does not bind judges to any particular outcome.

Factors That Can Affect the Duration of Alimony Payments

In addition to marriage length, Illinois courts look at several other factors when determining appropriate alimony duration. These factors give judges discretion to tailor alimony to suit the needs and realities of each couple.

One major factor is the age and health of both the paying and receiving spouses. If one spouse is much older or has health issues that impact earning potential, the judge may order a longer alimony duration. Age and health issues tend to play a larger role in long-term marriages.

The income levels and future earning capacities of both individuals are also considered. If one spouse earns significantly more, alimony may be lengthened to account for the disparity and allow the lower-earning spouse time to self-support. But alimony duration may be shortened if both spouses have high earning potential.

Judges also look at the standard of living established during the marriage. If the couple enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle, alimony might be extended to allow the receiving spouse to maintain that standard, especially after a long union. But for modest lifestyles, support obligations will not typically last as long.

Modifying or Terminating Alimony Payments

Sometimes, alimony duration can be modified after the initial court order. If the paying spouse experiences a significant change in income or employment status, they can request an early termination or reduction of alimony by filing a motion with evidence to justify the change.

Likewise, if the recipient's financial situation significantly improves, the paying spouse can request a modification based on the changed circumstances. But securing an alimony adjustment requires clear proof and court approval.

Contact an Illinois Family Law Attorney

Contact a Geneva divorce lawyer if you are considering divorce and have questions about alimony duration and termination. Contact The Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C. at 630-409-8184 today to get started.


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The Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C.


1444 North Farnsworth Avenue, Suite 307, Aurora, IL 60505

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