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Wheaton divorce attorneysWhen you get a divorce in Illinois, you can expect the court to ensure a fair distribution of marital property. However, you may have additional concerns about your ability to support yourself financially after your divorce, in which case you should explore the possible option of spousal maintenance, also known as spousal support or alimony. Spousal maintenance is not a required part of every Illinois divorce resolution, but it may be awarded in cases of need.

Am I Entitled to Spousal Support in Illinois?

If you and your spouse are willing to cooperate throughout the divorce process, you may be able to negotiate for the spousal support that you need as one piece of a larger divorce agreement. For example, your spouse may be more open to paying spousal support if he or she is able to retain important property as part of the division of assets. If negotiation is not possible, you can also pursue spousal maintenance by demonstrating your need to the court.

Illinois courts consider a variety of factors when determining whether spousal maintenance should be awarded. Some situations in which you may have a case for support include:

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Wheaton alimony lawyersSpousal support may not be awarded as often as it once was, it is still a factor in some cases. Think you might be entitled? Check out these 14 factors the courts use to decide whether or not to award alimony to a disadvantaged party and learn more about what our divorce lawyers can do to improve the outcome in your Illinois divorce case. 

1. Income and Assets of Each Party


Each party's income and assets are one of the first and biggest factors used to determine whether spousal support should be awarded in a divorce case. The courts will consider both marital and non-marital assets, as well as each party’s financial obligations. 

2. Financial Needs of Each Party

Another important factor the courts use to determine whether alimony should be awarded is the financial needs of each party. Three key components are used in this determination: the financial needs of the recipient, whether there is a gap in the recipient’s ability to meet their needs, and whether the payor is capable of supplementing that gap. Note that these needs must be legitimate; wants and luxuries are not considered. 

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Wheaton alimony attorneysAt the start of 2019, the federal government eliminated the 70-year-old tax deduction associated with alimony payments. For receiving spouses, it may seem beneficial to no longer have to claim alimony payments as income, but the change actually leaves less money for the entire family. That is because paying spouses, who remain at the same tax bracket, may need to decrease their support amount to balance out their financial obligations. Thankfully, there are some alternative strategies that families can use to preserve their wealth after a divorce. 

Trading Alimony Payments for a Transference of Retirement Funds 

Depending on the ages of the divorcing parties, a transference of retirement funds may be preferable to alimony payments. In this option, the paying spouse makes a tax-free exchange of money by directing some of their retirement funds to the lower-earning spouse. The receiving spouse may also withdraw from the amount without tax penalty, so long as they are age 59.5 or older. If the receiving party has not yet surpassed the age threshold, divorcing parties may want to consider another alternative, as the 10 percent early withdrawal penalty may outweigh any potential benefits for the family unit. 

Using a Trust Account in Lieu of Alimony Payments 

Another potentially viable alternative to alimony payments is the use of a trust account. The most commonly used versions are the CRT (charitable remainder trust), QTIP (Qualified Terminable Interest Trust), ILIT (Life Insurance Trust), and Alimony Trusts. 

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DuPage County spousal maintenance lawyer tax lawsNew tax laws that went into effect for this year have brought about quite a few changes. One major change, which could be bad news for those who are currently in the process of divorce, is that alimony (known as spousal maintenance under Illinois law) is no longer tax-deductible for those who pay it, and it will not be considered taxable income for those who receive it. This may be a major loss for people who are required to pay a large amount of alimony.

The 2018 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) is in effect now, and it applies to any divorce cases finalized after December 31, 2018. Therefore, going forward, any divorce that includes spousal maintenance will follow the new rules. Pre-2019 divorcees, however, may still qualify for the old rules.

Payors: Does Your Pre-2019 Agreement Meet Requirements for Tax-Deductible Alimony?

Many factors go into determining whether you can still deduct your spousal support payments from your taxes, including, but not limited to the following: 

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Illinois alimony attorneysAlimony, otherwise known as spousal maintenance, is not routinely awarded in Illinois. However, it is an element in some divorce cases. Learn how determinations regarding alimony are made, including how long you can expect to receive payments, and discover how a seasoned divorce lawyer can help you pursue the most favorable outcome in your case. 

Illinois’ Statutory Guidelines on Alimony 

Most of the time, family courts use a set of statutory guidelines to determine the amount and duration of alimony payments. While the court may deviate from these rules, they must either provide a valid reason for doing so, or the combined annual income of the parties must amount to more than $500,000. In those instances, the court may weigh several factors to determine the amount and duration of alimony payments (i.e. the length of the marriage, contributions of each party to the marital estate, ability to work, education, etc.). Otherwise, an alimony award is usually determined using a two-step process. 

  • The amount of alimony to be paid each year is determined by subtracting 20 percent of the receiving spouse’s gross income from 30 percent of the paying party’s gross income. 
  • The duration that alimony should be paid is determined by multiplying the years of marriage by a specific percentage (based on the number of years the parties were married). The product of the equation is the number of years that alimony will be paid. 

In 2018, the courts changed the multiplying factors used to determine the duration of spousal support, which has resulted in some parties receiving alimony for a shorter amount of time. These new percentages are as follows: 

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