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If you are seeking a dissolution of your marriage, spousal support, also referred to as alimony or maintenance, may be a part of your divorce settlement. This is especially true if your spouse is financially dependent on you, and even more likely if they lack the skills or education to acquire a job that allows them to earn an income that’s equivalent to their accustomed standard of living.

If you are ordered to pay spousal support, which is decided based on numerous factors, ranging from the income and property of each party to the standard of living established during the course of the marriage, then the next question you may have is in regards to for how long that support order will be in effect. Here is what you should know.

Duration of Support Orders in Illinois

The duration of a spousal support order is addressed in 750 ILCS 5/504. The law reads that the duration of a spousal maintenance award is calculated by multiplying the length of the marriage by a number. The specific number is based on marriage length. For example:

  • Fewer than five years – .20
  • Five years or more but fewer than six years – .24
  • 10 years or more but fewer than 11 years – .44

The statute continues to provide numbers for corresponding years from fewer than five years to fewer than 20 years and reads that for marriages of 20 years or more, the court can order maintenance for a period of time equal to the length of the marriage or indefinitely.

The above language means, for example, that a party married for four years may be required to pay spousal maintenance for just over nine months (20 percent of four years), and that a party married for 10 years may be required to pay maintenance for over four years (44 percent of 10 years).

It should be noted, however, that the court maintains the right to deviate from the guidelines when it finds that it is appropriate to do so, although a reason for deviation must be provided.

Modifying a Spousal Support Order

Even if you are ordered to pay spousal maintenance for a certain number of years, if your circumstances or those of your ex-spouse change substantially before the required timeframe of payment has elapsed, you may be able to file a request for modification with the court. Modification is allowed when a substantial change in circumstances has occurred, such as losing one’s job and being unable to afford payments as such.

Our Lawyers Are Here to Help

If you are getting divorced, retaining the counsel of a qualified attorney can help to ensure that if you are ordered to pay maintenance, such as award is fair. Our lawyers can also represent you in a modification of a support order case.

To schedule a consultation, please call our Illinois family and divorce lawyers directly, or send us a message telling us more about how we can be of service. We serve clients in Naperville, Wheaton, Downers Grove, Lisle, and Aurora.