How Do Illinois Courts Calculate Spousal Maintenance?

Going through a divorce can be emotionally trying and confusing for all parties involved. This is especially true of the financial aspects of a divorce, including spousal maintenance calculations. Spousal maintenance, also called spousal support, or alimony, occurs when one spouse must pay the other spouse money on an ongoing basis after a divorce. Family court judges typically order spousal maintenance. However, spousal maintenance can also be agreed upon by the couple in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.

Recent Changes to Illinois’ Spousal Maintenance Laws

Traditionally, Illinois family courts considered multiple factors when deciding whether to award spousal maintenance to one spouse and how much to award. These factors include The income and property owned by a spouse, the needs of each spouse, the present and future earning capacity of each spouse, and multiple other factors.

Spousal maintenance in Illinois is governed by Section 504 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). These guidelines were significantly changed in 2019. Couples filing for divorce after 2019 should be aware of these critical changes, including the following:

  • An update to the formula and guidelines used to calculate spousal maintenance
  • Changing the tax implications of spousal maintenance payments
  • Increasing the income threshold for the imposition of spousal maintenance
  • Revising the guidelines for the duration of the spousal maintenance payments
  • Replacing unclear or outdated terminology, such as “indefinite maintenance” for “permanent maintenance”

When Will a Court Require Spousal Maintenance?

When a couple’s combined income is under $500,000 per year, Illinois family courts will typically apply statutory guidelines to decide the duration and amount of spousal maintenance. In other words, if you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse make less than $500,000, the court will decide the issue.

A judge can deviate from the guidelines, but he or she will need to state the specific reason for deviating from the formula and the amount the spouse would have paid using the guidelines. The formula is somewhat complicated. The payer spouse needs to pay:

  • (Payer’s net annual income x .3333) minus
  • (The recipient’s net annual income x .25)
  • Equals the amount of spousal maintenance due from the payer to the payee each year

The Duration of Spousal Maintenance in Illinois

The duration of spousal maintenance is calculated by multiplying the length of the marriage at the time one spouse filed for divorce by whichever of the following factors applies:

  • Less than 5 years (.20)
  • 5-6 years (.24)
  • 6-7 years (.28)
  • 7-8 years (.32)
  • 8-9 years (.36)
  • 9-10 years (.40)
  • 10-11 years (.44)
  • 11-12 years (.48)
  • 12-13 years (.52)
  • 13-14 years (.56)
  • 14-15 years (.60)
  • 15-16 years (.64)
  • 16-17 years (.68)
  • 17-18 years (.72)
  • 18-19 years (.76)
  • 19-20 years (.80)
  • 20 or more years (a period equal to the length of the marriage or for an indefinite term)

The longer the marriage, the more extended spousal maintenance will last. Judges can award spousal maintenance as either fixed-term, indefinite, reviewable, or reserved by the court.

Contact an Illinois Divorce Lawyer Today

If you are considering a divorce in Cook County, Glasgow & Olsson is here to help. When you need an attorney, experience matters. We do not provide a free consultation because we view your initial consultation as the most important meeting you will have regarding your divorce. Contact us today to learn how we can represent you.

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