Knowledgeable Illinois Spousal Maintenance Lawyers Serving Rolling Meadows, Barrington Hills, and Chicago
Spousal maintenance in Illinois is similar to child support in many respects. When setting the amount and duration of alimony payments, the judge must consider certain guidelines. At the same time, the court has considerable discretion to look beyond the guidelines and enter any orders that are necessary to a just and right division of the marital estate. Either party may request alimony, which is designed to equalize the standard of living between the ex-spouses after divorce. It is important to note that, while child support is mandatory, an award of spousal maintenance is entirely discretionary. This discussion is based on a two pronged test. First, the court must find a need for maintenance. Second, the court must determine the amount of maintenance. If the income is below $250,000, there is no discretion and the court must follow the formula.
At Glasgow & Olsson, we understand that the recipient spouse often counts on spousal maintenance to begin a new life and/or maintain a certain standard of living, while the payor spouse often wants to keep these payments as low as possible. It is the judge's job to balance these interests, and our job to be a strong voice for you at every opportunity. This is a responsibility which we take very seriously, and we never forget that you are in charge of your case.
Spousal Support/Alimony Laws
In Illinois, a judge must consider a rather complicated formula to establish a baseline for maintenance payments. That amount is calculated by taking 30 percent of the payor's gross income and subtracting 20 percent of the recipient's gross income. The amount cannot exceed 40 percent of the combined gross income. The duration of payments is calculated by applying a multiple to the number of years the marriage lasted.
For example, assume that Wanda Wife and Henry Husband are divorcing after 12 years of marriage. To devote more time to the children, Henry works part time at a local retail store earning $20,000 per year. Wanda is a full time middle manager who earns $60,000 per year. Based on the statutory formula, Henry would be entitled to $14,000 per year ($18,000 minus $4,000) for 7.2 years (12 x 0.6). This equation is the Illinois alimony law standard regarding couples with a combined income of less than $250,000.
The judge has discretion to deviate from the baseline. To order an amount or duration that departs from the guidelines, the court may consider:
- The income and property of each party;
- The needs of each party;
- Present and future earning capacity of each party;
- Any impairment of the present and future earning capacity of the party seeking maintenance due to that party devoting time to domestic duties or having foregone or delayed education, training, employment, or career opportunities due to the marriage;
- Amount of time necessary to enable the party seeking maintenance to acquire appropriate education, training, and employment;
- The standard of living established during the marriage;
- Duration of the marriage;
- The age and the physical and emotional condition of both parties;
- Tax considerations;
- An agreement between the parties; and
- Any other factor that the court expressly finds to be just and equitable.
These are also the factors a judge must weigh to determine if maintenance is appropriate.
In the above example, a judge may elect to award more money or extend the duration of payments, since Henry would need to establish himself in a new job, and possibly even go back to school, to enjoy a similar standard of living.
A fair alimony award is an important part of an overall divorce property settlement. For your consultation with family law attorneys who have over 50 years of combined experienced, contact us by calling (847) 577-8700. Our lawyers assist clients in Schaumburg, Rolling Meadows, Barrington Hills, Palatine, Hanover Park, Hoffman Estates, and throughout the surrounding suburbs.