Maintenance (formerly known as alimony) comes in many shapes and sizes.
Unlike child support in Illinois, there is no statutory "formula"
for determining the amount or duration of maintenance to be awarded.
Illinois law recognizes three forms of maintenance:
- Permanent maintenance
- Periodic (temporary) maintenance
- Rehabilitative maintenance (maintenance until the spouse can become
The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act requires the Judge
to consider all relevant factors when deciding whether to award maintenance.
The factors include:
- The income and property of each party, including marital property
apportioned and non-marital property assigned to the party seeking
- the needs of each party;
- the present and future earning capacity of each party;
- any impairment of the present and future earning capacity of the
party seeking maintenance due to that party devoting time to domestic
duties or having forgone or delayed education, training, employment,
or career opportunities due to the marriage;
- the time necessary to enable the party seeking maintenance to acquire
appropriate employment or is the custodian of a child making it appropriate
that the custodian not seek employment;
- the standard of living established during the marriage;
- the duration of the marriage;
- the age and the physical and emotional condition of both parties;
- the tax consequences of the property division upon the respective
economic circumstances of the parties;
- contributions and services by the party seeking maintenance to
the education, training, career or career potential, or license of
the other spouse;
- any valid agreement of the parties; and
- any other factor that the court expressly finds to be just and
A "typical" permanent maintenance case in Illinois is as follows:
The couple has been married for over twenty years. The children are on
their own, or at least in college. The husband has worked full-time in
his profession throughout the marriage and now earns a comfortable income.
The wife has foregone career advancements in favor of being a full-time
homemaker. Perhaps the wife has recently reentered the workforce. This
is a perfect case for income averaging: the parties' incomes are added
together and divided in half - with each spouse receiving one-half of
the combined income until a "terminating event" occurs. For
maintenance purposes, a "terminating event" is usually one of
- Death of the receiving spouse
- Death of the payor spouse
- Remarriage of the receiving spouse
- Resident, conjugal cohabitation with another on the part of the receiving
- The retirement of the payor spouse.
A "typical" periodic maintenance case in Illinois is as follows:
The parties have been married for 10-20 years. Both parties have similar
educational backgrounds. The husband has worked full-time in his profession
throughout the marriage and now earns a comfortable income. The wife worked
full-time early in the marriage but ceased working outside the home when
the children were born. The wife needs additional education or training
in order to become self-supporting. The children are still young - in
elementary school. In this case, it is quite usual to see "periodic
maintenance" or "unallocated support" for a defined period
of time. The payor spouse will continue to provide support until a reviewable
event or the passage of a predetermined period of time.
For maintenance purposes, some examples of "reviewable events"
- The attainment of a certain level of education of the payee spouse
- A significant increase in salary of the payee spouse
- A significant increase or decrease in the income of the payor spouse
- The passage a predetermined period of time
- A child entering school or attaining a predetermined age
Please see our page on Child
Support for a more in-depth discussion of Unallocated Support.