Maintenance (a.k.a. Alimony)

Unlike child support, Illinois law does not specify guidelines when it comes to maintenance.  The courts vary from county to county, and sometimes courtroom to courtroom.  However, all judges will consider several factors to determine whether maintenance is appropriate in a case.  Some of the factors the court will consider are:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The age and health of the parties
  • The income and property of the parties
  • The present and future earning capacity of the parties
  • The ability of the party seeking maintenance to become self-supporting and, if applicable, the period of time and training necessary to become self-supporting
  • Reduced or lost lifetime earning capacity of the party seeking maintenance as a result of having foregone or delayed education, training, employment, or career opportunities during the marriage
Types of Maintenance
Permanent Maintenance

Permanent maintenance is usually awarded in long-term marriages when one of the parties has forgone education or employment to raise the parties’ children, be a homemaker, and support the other party’s education and career, and is therefore unlikely or unable to secure employment to support themselves in a manner similar to what they enjoyed in the marriage.  This type of maintenance usually lasts until the death of one of the parties, or upon a terminating event, as defined at law, or upon agreement of the party upon a triggering event (such as the retirement of the paying spouse).

Rehabilitative MaintenanceRehabilitative maintenance, also called temporary or reviewable maintenance, is a period of maintenance that allows the lesser or non-earning spouse a period of time to “get on their feet” by providing additional income for a short period of time, usually between 1 and 5 years.  This allows the party to receive training or get an education to make them more employable.  The maintenance can be for a specific period of time, or it can be deemed reviewable by the court, after which time the court will re-address the issue to see if continued maintenance is appropriate.   
Maintenance In GrossMaintenance in gross is a one-time, lump sum payment made by one party to the other.  This payment is usually made at or near the end of the divorce, and oftentimes provides tax benefits to one or both of the parties.  It also allows for a “clean break” between the parties.
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