It is common knowledge among the general population and Illinois courts that married couples enjoy certain financial advantages that disappear once that couple gets divorced. One such advantage is the fact that the couple only has to maintain one household. That means there is only one rent or mortgage to pay, one electricity bill to pay, one garbage bill to pay, etc. When couples stop cohabitating, the cost savings of shared expenses vanish, which can put a huge financial strain on both parties. To help ease the burden, Illinois courts may attempt to establish a marital standard of living and adjust the alimony or spousal support award accordingly—but not always.
According to FindLaw, the courts will typically only use the established standard of living to determine alimony if there is a huge disparity in each parties’ incomes, which is typically the case among the rich and famous. For instance, say either you or your spouse makes $10,000,000 a year and the other has a side hobby that brings in $25,000 a year. Your shared annual living expenses total approximately $5,000,000. In this case, the courts may award the lesser earning spouse $4,975,000 in alimony to help him or her or you maintain the standard of living you enjoyed while married.
However, say you and your spouse earn a combined annual income of $100,000. Your annual living expenses total approximately $75,000 a year. In this case, there is no way that the judge can fairly adjust an alimony award to satisfy the shared standard of living. He or she may attempt to even things out by ensuring that both spouses enjoy an income of $50,000 a year, but he or she will not force one spouse to live off $25,000 a year just so the other can enjoy the same standard of living established during the union.
Another factor that the judge will consider when determining spousal support is whether or not you and your spouse were living above or below your means. If you were living above your means and using credit to finance your living expenses, a divorce judge will not force either spouse to take on more debt to finance a lifestyle neither of you can reasonably afford. If you were living below your means, however, the judge might adjust alimony to reflect the sacrifices you or your spouse had to make because of one party’s frugal behavior. ?
The information in this post is for purely educational purposes. It should not be construed as legal advice.</p