When a couple in Illinois divorces, it is likely that one party will make maintenance payments — also referred to as spousal support or alimony — to the other party. One common question that arises in such situation is how long must you pay maintenance?
First, it’s important to note that while maintenance awards are common, they are not required. The purpose of maintenance payments is to assist the receiving party until the receiving party can become employed and support themselves. Note that maintenance awards are gender neutral. Men and women could be ordered to pay or entitled to receive maintenance.
How long must I pay maintenance?
How long you will be required to pay maintenance depends on how long your marriage lasted. Illinois has formulas for calculating maintenance awards.
For example, if a marriage lasted less than five years, the length of a maintenance award would be the length of the marriage times 0.20. If a marriage lasted 10 to 11 years, the length of a maintenance award would be the length of the marriage times 0.44. And, if the marriage lasted over 20 years, the length of a maintenance award would be the length of the marriage or could be indefinite.
Learn more about your maintenance rights
Ultimately, people in Illinois are expected to eventually support themselves following a divorce. If you earned significantly less than your spouse while married or if you need to go back to school to obtain a job that pays sufficiently enough to support yourself, you may be entitled to maintenance. Such awards will usually not go on forever, though. You will be able to understand the formulas used to determine how much maintenance will be awarded by reviewing Illinois law on maintenance.