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2 questions about alimony: When is it necessary and how much?

When it comes to the person who pays alimony, he or she doesn't usually want to pay it. When it comes to the person who receives alimony, there tends to be a wish to receive as much as possible.

But how do you know when someone needs to pay alimony under the law, and what factors serve to increase the amount of alimony the "payer" will pay?

When is alimony usually necessary?

When two spouses earn relatively the same amount of income, or when the employed spouse barely makes any income at all, the court might not require an award of alimony. That said, depending on the state in which the spouses litigate their divorce, under the federal Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act, a court might issue an alimony award if the lesser-moneyed spouse:

  • Lacks enough personal property to provide for his or her reasonable living needs;
  • Can't financially support him- or herself through gainful employment; or,
  • Is a custodial parent without the ability to work away from home.

What factors increase the paying spouse's alimony payments?

Illinois family law courts have a lot of discretion when it comes to awarding alimony payment amounts and the length of time those payments endure. Here are some factors that could inspire a court to require higher payments:

  • The ages, physical conditions, emotional conditions, financial situations and earning capacities of both spouses.
  • The standard of living enjoyed by the spouses while married.
  • The period of time the spouses were married.
  • The period of time that it will take for the lesser-moneyed spouse to receive education or training to become financially independent.
  • The paying spouse's ability to pay support while financially supporting him- or herself.

Is alimony a factor in your divorce?

Whether you want to defend against a demand for alimony -- or fight for your right to receive alimony -- it's important to thoroughly examine your legal situation in the context of Illinois law. This knowledge could help you know where you stand, and thereby enable you to save money and time by advocating for your rights in an out of court settlement negotiation.

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