Alimony or what we now call spousal support is a major issue in divorces especially in Illinois. Illinois is a very liberal state when it comes to alimony or spousal support. In Illinois, we now have a formula which essentially takes 30% of the higher wage earner’s salary and subtracts 20% from the lower wager earner’s wages.
Unfortunately, many judges now blindly apply the formula without first determining if the lower wage earner is even entitled to Alimony or Spousal Support.
A smart lawyer will argue that the lower wage earner is not necessarily entitled to spousal support if he or she:
1. Is not of a certain age category where it would be virtually impossible to ever earn a fraction of what the husband or wife makes. He or she may be well able to obtain a job with a salary comparable to the higher wage earner after the divorce.
2. Is well educated and has a history of high paying jobs.
3. Is not someone who turned down career opportunities due to the marriage. The spouse might actually have had very good jobs and simply chooses not to work at present or would it be virtually impossible for him or her to re-enter the job market at that level. Perhaps she is 55 years of age and she used to be a model.
4. Does not need the spousal support to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage. The couple may have lived very conservatively with say only one vacation a year and in a modest house with just two cars.
5. The spouse has other sources of income such as disability or retirement income.
Keep in mind that even if your wife or husband earns less than you and the court determines that he or she should get alimony or spousal support, you can also argue that some income should be “imputed”. That is if the wife or husband is intentionally unemployed or underemployed, then the court can “impute” income and base the alimony or spousal support award on what he or she could or should be making.
Consult your lawyer. If you know there is likely to be an alimony or maintenance award, know what your exposure is in terms of spousal support or alimony. Be realistic about what you may have to pay but also keep in mind how you can argue or agree to a lower amount.