How Is Spousal Maintenance Calculated in Illinois?

Posted on in Alimony / Maintenance

Illinois divorce attorneyWhen one spouse chooses to leave the workforce to care for the couple’s home and children or takes on lower paying work than he or she would otherwise be able to perform in order to do so, that spouse may seek spousal maintenance, once known as alimony, as part of the couple’s divorce settlement. Spousal maintenance is designed to prevent a lower earning spouse from experiencing financial hardship following his or her divorce.

Permanent vs. Temporary Spousal Maintenance

In the past, it was far more common for one partner to stay home while the other provided the family’s sole income than it is today. Divorced individuals who stayed home during their marriages were also less frequently expected to reenter the workforce or enter it for the first time after their divorces. These individuals were frequently awarded permanent alimony, which ensured that they received support from their former partners until they remarried or their former partners died.

Today, dual-income households are the norm. Individuals who opt out of the workforce often do so with some years of working experience and may have vocational or college degrees. Because these individuals can support themselves after their divorces, they are generally awarded temporary spousal maintenance. This maintenance provides a “cushion” for the receiver, permitting him or her to complete an education or secure employment before having to financially support him- or herself completely.

There are some cases where permanent maintenance may still be awarded, such as marriages that lasted 20 years or longer or cases where the lesser earning spouse cannot realistically return to the workforce due to age or disability.

Illinois’ Spousal Maintenance Formula

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides the guidelines Illinois courts use to determine spousal maintenance. It details the factors the court may consider when determining a spousal maintenance amount, such as:

  • Both parties’ age and health;
  • Both parties’ incomes and assets;
  • The length of the marriage;
  • Each partner’s employability; and
  • The tax obligations of the couple’s asset division.

For couples whose combined incomes are less than $250,000 per year, the court uses a formula alongside the above factors to determine a fair maintenance amount. This formula is as follows:

Thirty percent of the payor’s gross income – 20 percent of the receiver’s gross income.

If the marriage lasted less than 20 years, a formula may also be used to determine the length of the maintenance award. A marriage that lasted up to five years may have its duration multiplied by 20 percent to determine the length of time the receiver will receive maintenance. For example, maintenance following a five-year marriage would last one year. For marriages that lasted five to 10 years, the duration is multiplied by 40 percent. For 10 to 15-year marriages, the multiplication figure is 60 percent and for those that lasted 15 to 20 years, it is 80 percent.

Work with an Experienced St. Charles Divorce Lawyer

Although it is no longer common for permanent alimony to be part of a divorce settlement, it is not uncommon for there to be some form of spousal maintenance involved. Discuss your unique circumstances to get a better sense of whether you can expect to pay or receive spousal maintenance after your divorce by scheduling your legal consultation with experienced Kane County divorce lawyer. Contact Shaw Sanders, P.C. today at 630-584-5550 to set up your free consultation with divorce lawyer Matthew G. Shaw.



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