When a married couple divorces in Illinois, the court may require the higher-earning spouse to pay spousal support to the other spouse. Spousal support is also called spousal maintenance or alimony. The support is typically intended to be temporary and rehabilitative in nature, but there are exceptions. The higher-earning spouse provides payments to the recipient spouse until he or she can get back on his or her feet financially. The issue of the payment of spousal support may also be agreed upon ahead of time through a prenuptial agreement. Whether you are the payor or recipient of spousal support, you may want to know how long these payments will last. The answer depends on a variety of factors.
Temporary Spousal Support vs. Permanent Spousal Support
If you and your spouse agreed to a spousal support arrangement in a Marital Settlement Agreement, the payments will end according to that agreement. When the court assigns spousal support, it is typically intended to last long enough for the recipient to gain the education, training, skills, and employment needed to become financially independent. Illinois law provides a formula for calculating the duration of a spousal support order that depends upon the length of the marriage. Longer marriages generally lead to proportionately longer orders for spousal support.
In some cases, the court will award permanent spousal support to a spouse. This typically happens when the spouses were married for longer than 20 years and the lesser earning spouse sacrificed education and employment to be a homemaker or care for children....