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How do Illinois courts decide if I will receive alimony?

If you are getting divorced, your post-divorce financial stability can be one of your biggest concerns. This can be especially true if your spouse was the primary earner in your family.

In many cases, people in this position wonder about the availability of alimony, or maintenance, which allows a financially disadvantaged party to receive monetary support from a former spouse indefinitely or for a specific period of time. If you are in this position and wondering whether you might receive alimony, you should understand the factors that the courts use to make these decisions.

Factors the courts consider

When considering a petition for support, courts in Illinois will consider a number of factors specific to each case. These factors include:

  • The duration of the marriage
  • The marital standard of living
  • Each person's age and health
  • Each person's financial needs
  • Both parties' income and financial obligations
  • The property division settlement
  • Each person's current and potential earning capacity
  • The degree to which one person's earning capacity was impaired by leaving a job, delaying education or forgoing career opportunities to stay at home
  • Whether the other party can reasonable pay maintenance
  • The effort and time it would take for the receiving party to find a job to support himself or herself

These and other relevant factors will help the courts determine whether to award maintenance, as well as the amount and duration of any support they order.

Making the decision outside the courtroom

Understand that you do not have to let a judge decide on this or any other divorce-related matter. If you would prefer to avoid the courtroom and make the decision on maintenance yourselves, you can do so by coming to an agreement in mediation or other forms of alternative dispute resolution. 

People can also set rules or expectations for alimony in a prenuptial agreement. When valid, a prenup can provide critical guidance in the event of divorce and allow parties to resolve related matters more easily.

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