How Long Do I Have to Pay Spousal Support?

To understand the issue of spousal support, otherwise known as alimony, you must first understand that it is not an automatic given that it will be granted. Divorce courts will look at this issue on a case-by-case basis to determine if spousal support should be awarded. This is decided on the basis of the specific facts and circumstances of your situation. If the court decides that spousal support is appropriate, then it can proceed towards determining the amount and for how long the support will continue. If the court decides that spousal support is not appropriate, any request for such an award will be barred from pursuit. The length of your marriage plays a considerable part in this matter but, even in marriages of a long duration, if the court rules against spousal support at the outset, the matter is generally over.

If spousal support is to be granted, the amount to be paid to the supported spouse will be based on a specific calculation. That calculation for yearly maintenance is done by taking one-third of the payor spouse’s net income and then subtracting one-fourth of the supported spouse’s net income.

For example, if payor spouse Ben’s net income is $100,000, one-third of that would be approximately $33,330. If the payee spouse Alice’s net income is $35,000, one-fourth of that would be approximately $8,750. Subtracting Alice’s amount from Ben’s amount would equal approximately $24,580. This would be the annual figure. When divided by 12, it would lead to a monthly spousal support amount of approximately $2,048. Remember, however, that net income is decided after appropriate expenses are deducted from one’s gross income.

Determining How Long Spousal Support Will Endure

The determination of how long a spousal support award will last also is decided on a mathematical calculation. This formula is done by multiplying how long the marriage lasted by a set factor as shown below:

  • Marriages lasting less than 5 years are multiplied by .20
  • Marriages lasting 5 – 6 years are multiplied by .24
  • Marriages lasting 6 -7 years are multiplied by .28
  • Marriages lasting 7 -8 years are multiplied by .32
  • Marriages lasting 8 -9 years are multiplied by .36
  • Marriages lasting 9 -10 years are multiplied by .40
  • Marriages lasting 10 – 11 years are multiplied by .44
  • Marriages lasting 11 – 12 years are multiplied by .48
  • Marriages lasting 12 – 13 years are multiplied by .52
  • Marriages lasting 13 – 14 years are multiplied by .56
  • Marriages lasting 14 – 15 years are multiplied by .60
  • Marriages lasting 15 -16 years are multiplied by .64
  • Marriages lasting 16 – 17 years are multiplied by .68
  • Marriages lasting 17 – 18 years are multiplied by .72
  • Marriages lasting 18 – 19 years are multiplied by .76
  • Marriages lasting 19 – 20 years are multiplied by .80
  • Marriages lasting 20 years or longer may be indefinite or for a period equal to the length of the marriage

Based on the above table, if you were married for 10 years, the duration would be for a time period of 4.4 years. If you were married for 15 years, the duration would continue for 9.6 years. This is known as fixed-term spousal support. It ends and cannot be renewed after the end date. In indefinite spousal support, it would only end until it is either modified or terminated by the court. Where spousal support is reviewable, the courts will decide that initially so that it can reviewed when the deadline closes in.

Additional provisions in the law require that what a payor spouse pays in both spousal support and child support cannot exceed 50 percent of his or her net income. In those cases, the court can decide the case based on its specific circumstances and facts.

Need Legal Help with Spousal Support or Another Family Law Matter?

If you are facing divorce in Chicago and need answers to questions concerning spousal support or other family law-related issues, you can turn to the Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C. Our firm has been successfully representing clients in the area for more than decade.

Schedule a confidential consultation with an attorney to discuss your legal issue by calling us at (312) 487-2795 today.

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