Under Part V of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/), in order to get spousal maintenance—also known sometimes as spousal support or alimony—the spouse who wants to get it needs to ask for it specifically. Once a spouse requests maintenance, typically as part of a divorce proceeding, the first issue the court needs to decide is whether maintenance is appropriate. To determine whether maintenance is appropriate, the court considers many different factors. Those statutory factors may include, for example:
- The income of the spouses;
- Needs of each spouse;
- The spouse’s ability to earn an income, both now and in the future ;
- Whether the future earning capacity of the spouse needing alimony is impacted by the time spent caring for the home or children during the marriage;
- Whether any factor might impact the payor of alimony’s ability to earn income in the future;
- Amount of time the lesser-earning spouse would need to acquire the employment necessary to support himself or herself;
- Effect of parenting scheduled on either party’s ability to seek or maintain employment;
- Standard of living established during the marriage;
- Duration of the marriage; and
- Health, age, station, and occupation of the parties.
The statute also lists additional factors that the court can consider in determining whether spousal maintenance is appropriate. Once the court decides that a maintenance award is appropriate, then it must determine the amount and duration of that award.