During an Illinois divorce, a judge considers a wide range of factors before awarding alimony, also known as maintenance. Many people see making these payments as a burden, particularly if there is some change in circumstances so that they no longer seem fair.

According to Illinois state law, it is possible for individuals to request a modification in the amount that they pay, and there are many situations in which a judge may agree to the change.

Tax consequences

Like almost all federal and state laws, tax laws are subject to change over time. When the tax consequences of a maintenance award become excessive, it may prompt a change.

Property value

Some assets change in value rapidly, and it may be that an asset awarded in the divorce, such as a retirement account, has suddenly become more valuable, or has changed in status. A judge may consider this relevant to the amount of maintenance that should be paid.

No attempt at change

Judges often award maintenance temporarily so that a spouse can take steps to become self-supporting. If the spouse is making no attempt to do so, the judge may decide that the maintenance is not necessary.


It would not be fair for a person to quit a job and take one that pays less in order to get out of paying maintenance. However, a job loss, income reduction or impairment that affects employment may be good reason for a judge to modify the award. An increase in income may also affect the amount paid.

In one Illinois modification case, a woman requested an increase based on her former spouse’s lottery winnings. The court honored the request because it ruled that these were income and could therefore be considered a significant income change. The spouse appealed based on the fact that he had recently lost his job, but the court denied the appeal.