Spousal maintenance (commonly called alimony) is money that one spouse has to pay the other to help prevent financial hardship and maintain the recipient’s standard of living. It’s calculated by a specific formula that a judge applies after determining that maintenance is appropriate.

If you have been the primary earner and your spouse’s job has traditionally been to maintain your home or raise your children, you may have to pay alimony. Sometimes divorcing couples that include two working people still exchange alimony. (If you’re still not sure whether you’ll have to pay alimony, talk to a Chicago family law attorney who can give you more specific guidance.)