“Maintenance” (formerly known as alimony) is the amount of money one spouse pays to the other, by court order or by agreement, for support and maintenance of the recipient spouse.


  • Permanent: This type of maintenance is to be paid in periodic installments (weekly or monthly, for example) until one of the termination factors is met.
  • Temporary/Reviewable: This type of maintenance lasts for a specific period of time, sometimes with a review to determine whether maintenance should continue.
  • Rehabilitative: This is paid for a fixed period, after which it automatically terminates, to allow the recipient time to become financially self supporting.
  • Lump sum/“Maintenance in Gross”: This type of maintenance is a fixed sum, which may be payable in one payment or a schedule of periodic payments.

Termination Events

May include the following, but may not be applicable to all types of maintenance:

  1. Death of payor or recipient;
  2. The recipient’s remarriage;
  3. The expiration of the maintenance period (if any);
  4. The failure to petition for a review to extend maintenance (if in agreement);
  5. When the recipient cohabits with another person on a continuing conjugal basis.

Elements of Maintenance and Factors for Awarding Maintenance

The two important elements of maintenance are the amount of the monthly obligation and how long that obligation will last.  In Illinois, Section 504 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/504) governs maintenance.  The statute provides specific guidelines for the calculation of maintenance for married couples with a combined annual gross income of $250,000.00 or less.  Further, the statute provides guidelines for the duration of maintenance.  Generally, short-term marriages would involve no maintenance, or maintenance for a very short period of time.  Longer marriages are likely to see a longer duration of maintenance, and marriages of twenty years or more could end with a indefinite (permanent) maintenance obligation.

As every case is different, the court must consider the individual resources and needs of each party in deciding whether whether a maintenance award is appropriate.  Factors for the court’s consideration may include the following:

  • Age of each party
  • Physical and mental capacity
  • Income/Earning capacity (ability or inability)
  • Education
  • Need
  • Duration of marriage
  • Marital property division
  • Non-Marital property


For new cases, maintenance is now based on the net incomes of the parties.  As such, maintenance in this situation is no longer taxable to the recipient and no longer tax deductible to the payor.  However, if the original maintenance award was based on gross incomes, future maintenance awards will continue to be taxable to the recipient and tax deductible to the payor.