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.

Situations Which Automatically End Spousal Maintenance Payments

If the recipient spouse passes away, spousal support terminates. He or she is not required to continue making payments to the deceased ex-spouse’s estate. Spousal maintenance also ends if the recipient spouse remarries or cohabitates with a romantic partner. If your ex-spouse is living with his or her boyfriend or girlfriend and you want to stop making spousal support payments, you will need to petition the court to relieve you of your spousal support obligation. You may also petition the court to end or modify spousal support if you can prove that a substantial change in circumstances necessitates the change. For example, if the recipient spouse got a new job and now makes more money than the payor spouse makes, the court would likely relieve the payor spouse of his or her support obligation. Lastly, support payments may end if both the recipient and payor agree pursuant to an Agreed Court Order for the obligation to end.

Contact a Wheaton Spousal Support Lawyer

For help establishing spousal support, modifying an existing spousal support agreement, ending spousal support, and more, contact Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC. Call our office at 630-665-7300 to schedule a consultation with a knowledgeable DuPage County family law attorney.