When a married couple decides to divorce, the issue of spousal support, also known as alimony, may arise. This matter can be decided outside of a court, but if a couple cannot come to an agreement, it will be up to a judge to determine if spousal support is owed, how much will be paid and for how long.
Spousal support may be ordered in the form property, multiple payments or one lump sum. If it is determined that spousal support is owed, a judge will consider a variety of factors when determining how much to award.
These considerations include the income and assets of each individual as well as their financial needs and the quality of life that the couple was enjoying before the divorce. A judge will also look at the earning potential of each individual and any disabilities or issues that may prevent one person from being able to support himself or herself. Another consideration is if one individual provided assistance to the other in education or career opportunities or gave up their own career to take care of their family.
Spousal maintenance may enable individuals who have made sacrifices for their marriage to be able to support themselves for a set period of time or the rest of their life, but it is important that a support order is equitable so that the paying spouse is able to afford it. A family law attorney may be able to help someone going through a divorce to understand how spousal support is determined and potentially argue their case in court or during mediation.
Source: Divorce Support, "Illinois Spousal Support/Maintenance/Alimony Factors", September 12, 2014