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How length of marriage affects spousal support in Illinois

Divorce is a life-changing experience that often requires significant adjustment from both parties. A common concern among separating spouses is the divorce’s impact on their finances, especially for the less-earning and housemaker spouses who rely on their other half for support.

Fortunately, courts award alimony as they see fit during divorce. This ensures a fair transition for both parties after the divorce while allowing them to maintain a semblance of their lifestyle during the marriage.

When determining spousal support, one of the factors courts consider is the duration of the marriage.

Why does it affect spousal support?

The length of marriage usually reflects the degree of income dependability. When a marriage dynamic involves a working spouse and a homemaker, the latter has little to no earning capacity and relies heavily on the other. Even if both spouses work, one of them usually earns more than the other.

The longer the marriage is, the more the less-earning or non-earning spouse has become dependent on the working spouse for support. If they separate, the less-earning spouse will likely have difficulty covering their needs and maintaining the lifestyle they were accustomed to.

What is its role in alimony?

In Illinois, the length of marriage determines the duration of the award. The courts will multiply the number of marriage years by the guideline-specified figure, as provided below:

  • Less than five years of marriage multiplied by .20
  • Five to less than ten years of marriage multiplied by .40
  • Ten to less than 15 years of marriage multiplied by .60
  • 15 to less than 20 years of marriage multiplied by .80

If the marriage lasts more than 20 years, the court may award a permanent award or one equal to the length of the marriage.

Spousal support is vital for ensuring the divorce parties’ financial stability. It helps separating spouses transition smoothly into post-marital life. However, whether the court will award alimony and how much will depend on the unique facts and circumstances of each case.

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