Late last year, the Illinois Legislature approved an amendment that made significant changes to the state’s spousal maintenance law. Before these changes were enacted, both the amount and duration of spousal maintenance were determined based on a series of factors, which gave judges a lot of discretion when it came to maintenance-related decisions. Later, the state’s maintenance statute was amended, so that judges were required to use a specific formula when determining maintenance. However, this formula only needed to be used when a couple’s income fell below a specific threshold. The new law, which went into effect on January 1st of this year, made important changes to the formula used to calculate the duration of alimony payments, as well as the threshold at which it must be applied. For a better understanding of how these amendments will come into play in your own divorce, please contact an experienced Arlington Heights divorce attorney who can assist you.
New Statutory Threshold
Formerly known as House Bill 2537, the new alimony law officially changed the threshold that determines whether a specific maintenance formula will be used when calculating support. In prior years, courts were only required to apply the state’s spousal maintenance formula when a couple’s gross income fell below $250,000. Under the new maintenance law, this threshold was increased to $500,000, which means that judges are required to apply a statutory formula when calculating maintenance if the gross income of the parties in question is less than $500,000. As a result, maintenance awards ordered since these changes were enacted have been generally much larger.
Length of Obligation
The second big change to the state’s maintenance laws involved how courts calculate the duration of payments. Before January 1st of this year, the ranges used to calculate duration of payments were in five year increments. For example, when a marriage had lasted for five years, maintenance needed to be paid for an amount of time equaling 20 percent of the duration of the marriage, while marriages lasting between five and ten years required payments for an amount of time equaling 40 percent of the length of the marriage. According to the new rules, any alimony awards must be paid instead based on the following schedule:
- Payments for a marriage lasting less than five years must continue for a length of time equaling 20 percent of the duration of the marriage;
- Payments for a marriage lasting more than five, but less than six years must continue for a length of time equaling 24 percent of the duration of the marriage;
- Payments for a marriage lasting more than six, but less than seven years must continue for a length of time equaling 28 percent of the duration of the marriage;
- Payments for a marriage lasting more than seven, but less than eight years must continue for a length of time equaling 32 percent of the duration of the marriage; and
- Payments for a marriage lasting at least eight, but less than nine years must continue for a length of time equaling 36 percent of the duration of the marriage.
The formula goes on to increase by increments of four percent for every year of marriage. However, for marriages lasting 20 or more years, courts are permitted to either order maintenance for a length of time equal to the duration of the marriage or for an indefinite term.
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To speak with an experienced Arlington Heights divorce attorney about your own divorce, please call the SAM LAW OFFICE LLC at 847-255-9925.