The 4 Types of Spousal Maintenance Awarded in Illinois

In Illinois, family law issues are dictated by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. This act provides guidelines for issues from marriage to divorce to child custody. Under the act, spousal maintenance (a.k.a. alimony or spousal support) is a payment given to one spouse from the other after divorce.

In Illinois, there is no automatic entitlement to maintenance. That right must be based upon facts of each individual case. Divorce courts assess many factors in determining whether they will award spousal maintenance. Factors include such things as the income and property of each party, the needs of each party, the duration of the marriage, and the standard of living during the marriage, among others. Once the court has weighed all of the factors and has determined that spousal maintenance will be awarded, they have the following four types to choose from.


  • Permanent Maintenance


Permanent maintenance is spousal support that is awarded for the remainder of the recipient’s life. This is generally not available in every situation because the court will award it in situations where the marriage is particularly long (e.g. in excess of 25 years), a spouse has given up educational, career, and/or earning opportunities in order to take care of the marital household and children, or when the receiving spouse is not employable.

For instance, it makes sense in situations where a spouse has been out of the workforce for 20 plus years, or if they are reaching an older age, because it is not likely that they would be sufficiently employable or able to work enough to support themselves for the rest of their life.


  • Rehabilitative Maintenance


Rehabilitative maintenance is paid for a fixed period of time so that the receiving spouse can improve their ability to earn an income and support themselves. It follows that once the set time period has lapsed, the maintenance stops. The purpose of this is to “rehabilitate” the recipient until they are able to earn a sufficient income to support themselves to the lifestyle accustomed to during the marriage. During this period, the court will expect the recipient to take steps to increase their ability to earn income, including appropriate career education.


  • Rehabilitative Maintenance Subject to Review


Rehabilitative maintenance subject to review is the same as regular rehabilitative maintenance, but with no set expiration date. Instead, the court reviews the needs of the recipient spouse periodically to determine when support should end.

Like rehabilitative maintenance, this type is paid over a certain period of time except that the court reserves the right to determine whether or not the maintenance should continue. If the recipient is not financially independent the court will examine why, whether maintenance should continue, and for how long. It is important to note that maintenance can always be modified unless the parties agreed specifically to make it non-modifiable.


  • Maintenance in Gross


Maintenance in gross is a specific sum of money that is paid and cannot be modified. In these situations, one lump sum of money is paid and immediately belongs to the recipient spouse. Here, there are no periodic payments because the entire reward is given up-front, all at one time. The court would have to deem such an award sufficient to support the spouse in lieu of periodic payments. Sometimes, spouses receives assets instead of payment, such as the marital home. When this happens, it is usually given outright, meaning that it is free and clear of any obligations or liens.

Divorce is stressful and worrying about what comes next is often a scary time in someone’s life. At Lake Cook Law we understand that family law issues have a major impact on the most important areas of your life. If you are going through an Illinois divorce and need someone to advocate on your behalf, contact Lake Cook Law today!

Written by Lake Cook Legal Solutions, LLC

Lake Cook Legal Solutions, LLC

Lake Cook Legal Solutions has been helping people throughout Lake, Cook, McHenry, and DuPage counties since 2012. We focus our practice on matters involving Illinois families—namely Family Law and Estate Planning.