Changes in the Spousal Support, Maintenance and Alimony Laws in Illinois
How will these recent changes to the Illinois Spousal Support Laws affect you?
As of January 1, 2015, there will be a new law in Illinois as it pertains to spousal support, also known as alimony or maintenance. The outgoing law laid out varying factors for the Court to consider in determining maintenance, including such things as standard of living, income of the parties, age, education, health and employment history. These are subjective standards and the factors alone render it difficult for practitioners and litigants to anticipate what a Court is going to recommend or order in the way of a maintenance award. The new law sets out varying formulas that would apply in most cases to determine the proper amount and duration of a maintenance award.
Once a court determines that maintenance is warranted in a case (using the factors already set out in the statute), there is a formula for determining the proper annual amount, and a formula for determining the number of years the maintenance award shall continue.
New law parameters
“In situations when the combined gross income of the parties is less than $250,000 and no multiple family situation exists, maintenance payable after the date the parties’ marriage is dissolved shall be in accordance with subparagraphs (A) and (B) of this paragraph (1), unless the court makes a finding that the application of the guidelines would be inappropriate.”
Therefore, this formula shall specifically apply only in cases where the combined gross income of the parties is less than $250,000. However, there is nothing restricting the Court from using the formulas below as a guideline in situations where the combined income is greater than $250,000.
“(A) The amount of maintenance under this paragraph (1) shall be calculated by taking 30% of the payor’s gross income minus 20% of the payee’s gross income. The amount calculated as maintenance, however, when added to the gross income of the payee, may not result in the payee receiving an amount that is in excess of 40% of the combined gross income of the parties.”
John and Sue have a combined family income of $150,000 where Sue earns $100,000 gross per year and John earns $50,000 gross per year. In this case John is seeking maintenance from Sue, therefore she is the payor and John is the payee.
– 30% of Sue’s gross income is $30,000
– 20% of John’s gross income is $10,000
– $30,000 less $10,000 equals $20,000
John’s maintenance award would be $20,000 gross per year based upon this formula.
However, before concluding the calculation, we must add this maintenance award of $20,000 to John’s gross income of $50,000, for a total of $70,000 and determine if $70,000 is more or less than 40% of the total combined income of the parties of $150,000.
In this case, if John were to have a gross income of $70,000 with his maintenance award, he would have 46% of the total combined income which is more than 40%. Therefore, the maintenance award of $20,000 is too high and would have to be reduced to be no more than 40% of the total combined income.
Forty percent (40%) of the total gross combined income is $60,000; therefore, with John’s gross income of $50,000, his maintenance award cannot be more than $10,000 per year.
“(B) The duration of an award under this paragraph (1) shall be calculated by multiplying the length of the marriage by whichever of the following factors applies: 0-5 years (.2); 5-10 years (.4); 10-15 years (.6); or 15-20 years (.8). For a marriage of 20 or more years, the court, in its discretion, shall order either permanent maintenance or maintenance for a period equal to the length of the marriage.”
John and Sue have been married 7 years and it is determined that John is entitled to maintenance from Sue. The duration of the award based upon 7 years, would be 7 (the number of years they have been married) multiplied by the statutory multiplier of .4 (multiplier for 5-10 year marriage). Therefore, John would be entitled to 2.8 years of maintenance from Sue, or 33.6 months. If they had been married 19 years, John would be entitled to maintenance for 15.2 years or 182.4 months (based upon the multiplier of .8)
The new law also states that in any marriage less than 10 years (or where the initial petition is filed before the 10th anniversary) a court may order terminating maintenance, such that once the maintenance obligation is paid in the duration ordered by the court, the payee cannot come back in and ask for maintenance to continue.
This new law seeks to simplify the maintenance award process in certain cases; however, some questions still arise, such as:
– How do the factors weigh in each case in determining whether maintenance is appropriate?
– How does a child support award factor in to the maintenance award under this new law?
– What should a maintenance award be for a 25 year marriage?
– How would this formula apply, if at all, if the parties agree to an unallocated support award?
The attorneys at Hoffenberg & Block, LLC seek to find the answers to these questions about spousal support, maintenance, alimony and many others as they arise, in advocating for your best interests.