For most people, economic issues are a major concern in divorce. Alimony, known in Illinois as maintenance, is a part of many divorces, and a spouse’s economic well-being may be dependent on whether maintenance is awarded, and how much will be required. Illinois law regarding the calculation of alimony changed in January 2015, and it is useful to understand the new methods.
Whether Maintenance Should Be Awarded
The first step in any spousal support decision is determining whether alimony is warranted, and to which spouse it should be awarded. Courts consider several factors, listed in Illinois statutes, including:
- Each spouse’s income and property;
- Each spouse’s needs;
- Each spouse’s earning capacity;
- Any impairment of a spouse’s earning capacity due to foregoing employment, education, or training for the benefit of the marriage;
- The time necessary for that spouse to acquire the necessary education, training, and employment to become self-sufficient;
- The standard of living established during the marriage;
- The length of the marriage;
- Each spouse’s age and physical and mental condition;
- The tax consequences of the property division;
- The contributions of one spouse to the other’s education, training, career, or licensure;
- Any pre- or postnuptial agreement; and
- Any other relevant factors.
After weighing these factors, the judge would decide whether maintenance was warranted. If it was, the judge was ultimately given discretion as to the amount to be paid as well as the duration for which it was to be paid. The only requirement was that the award be reasonable.
If the judge determines that an award of maintenance is warranted, the next step is to calculate the amount of the maintenance. In Illinois, when the gross combined income of both spouses is less than $250,000, the calculation is based on a mathematical formula, involving the spouses’ gross income.
Under the formula, the amount of maintenance is calculated by taking 30% of the payor spouse’s gross income, minus 20% of the payee’s gross income. When the amount of alimony is added to the payee’s gross income, the total may not exceed 40% of the couple’s combined gross income.
For example, the payor spouse makes $100,000 a year, and the payee spouse makes $10,000. The alimony will thus be $30,000 (30% of the payor’s income) minus $2,000 (20% of the payee’s income), which equals $28,000. Since $28,000 plus $10,000 (the payee’s gross income) is not more than $44,000 (40% of the combined gross income), the $28,000 will be awarded.
If the combined gross income of the spouses is over $250,000, however, the court shall determine the amount of maintenance after considering the same factors that it used to determine whether maintenance would be awarded in the first place.
Finally, the court calculates the duration of the maintenance award using a formula based on the length of the marriage. Like the formula for the amount, the duration formula only applies when the combined gross income of the couple is under $250,000.
|Duration of Marriage||Duration of Maintenance|
|0–5 years||20% of the length of the marriage|
|5–10 years||40% of the length of the marriage|
|10–15 years||60% of the length of the marriage|
|15–20 years||80% of the length of the marriage|
For couples whose marriages lasted over 20 years, the court may decide to award permanent alimony or alimony lasting for a period equal to the duration of the marriage.
Again, for marriages where the couple’s combined gross income exceeds $250,000, the court makes its determination of the duration of the alimony based on the factors it uses to decide whether or not alimony should be awarded.
If you are considering a divorce, it is important to understand Illinois’s alimony laws. Please contact a Rolling Meadows family law attorney at S.A.M. LAW OFFICE, LLC for an initial consultation.