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Should I Plan to Pay Spousal Support?

Should I Plan to Pay Spousal Support?

By: M. Scott Gordon

If you are considering divorce in the Chicago area, or are in the process of getting divorced, you may be asking yourself: Should I plan on paying spousal maintenance? And if I should plan on paying spousal support, how much should I anticipate paying? And for how long will I need to provide these payments? These are important questions and the answers vary, depending upon a number of factors. In terms of the amount and duration of spousal maintenance, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) provides guidelines for determining how much alimony should be paid and for what period of time, provided that a couple earns less than $500,000 annually combined.

The question of whether spousal maintenance is appropriate is a question the court needs to decide before it even gets to the matter of amount and duration. Accordingly, you may be ordered to pay spousal maintenance, but your divorce attorney can discuss ways in which the court makes such a decision. Then, once you know whether you are likely to pay alimony, you can determine the probable amount and its duration.

Step One: Determining Whether Spousal Maintenance is Appropriate

In determining whether you should plan on paying spousal support, you should learn about factors the court considers when deciding whether spousal maintenance is appropriate in any given case. The decision of whether spousal maintenance is appropriate must be made before there are any determinations of amount or duration. The following are relevant factors for determining whether spousal maintenance is appropriate:

  • Income of each of the parties;
  • Property of each of the parties (including apportioned marital property and non-marital property);
  • Needs of each of the parties;
  • Any impairment of the present and future earning capacity of the party who would be required to pay spousal support;
  • Amount of time necessary for the party seeking spousal support to acquire the necessary education or training to obtain an appropriate job;
  • Effect of parental responsibilities on either parent’s ability to obtain and/or maintain employment;
  • Duration of the marriage;
  • Age, health, occupation, skills, and employability of each of the parties;
  • All sources of income for each party;
  • Tax consequences of spousal support for either party;
  • Contributions of the spouse seeking maintenance to the other spouse’s education, training, or career;
  • Valid agreement between the parties concerning spousal support; and
  • Any other factors the court determines to be just and equitable.

Your lawyer can discuss these factors with you and can help you to make an educated assumption about whether you will need to pay spousal support.

Step Two: Determining Amount and Duration

If you earn less than $500,000 combined with your spouse, the guidelines provide for the following calculation of the amount of spousal support:

  • Take 33 percent of your net income;
  • Subtract 25 percent of your spouse’s net income;
  • Remaining amount equals the amount of support you would pay annually (up to 40% of the total combined income).

The duration is usually based on the length of the marriage. The guidelines provide a formula for multiplying the length of the marriage by a percentage in order to determine the duration. For example, a five-year marriage is multiplied by .24, resulting in 1.2 years of support. A 10-year marriage is multiplied by .44, resulting in 4.4 years of support.

Contact a Chicago Spousal Support Attorney

Do you have questions about alimony or maintenance? A Chicago spousal support lawyer can help. Contact M. Scott Gordon & Associates to discuss your case with an advocate today.