When married couples decide to get divorced, one spouse may be at a disadvantage, and the adjustment to living on a single income can result in difficulty making ends meet. However, according to Illinois law, when one spouse earns a substantially higher income than the other, they may be required to pay spousal maintenance (which is also called spousal support or alimony) to their former partner.
Maintenance allows a spouse to maintain a standard of living after their divorce that is similar to what they were used to during their marriage, and it can be especially helpful for spouses who decided to make sacrifices to their own career in favor of raising children or who helped their partner advance their career and increase their earning potential. However, spouses should be aware of some recent changes to Illinois’ divorce laws which affect maintenance awards.
Updated Guidelines For Duration of Spousal Support
In Illinois, if maintenance is awarded during divorce, the duration that these payments will last is based on the length of the parties’ marriage. On January 1, 2018, an update to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act took effect which changed the method of calculating this duration.
Under the old law, the percentages used to determine the duration of maintenance were broken into five-year increments. For example, in a marriage which lasted between 10 and 15 years, maintenance payments would last for 60% of the length of the marriage. Under the updated law, a more specific calculation is used for every year between five and 20 years of marriage, using the following percentages:
- Under 5 years: 20%
- Between 5 and 6 years: 24%
- Between 6 and 7 years: 28%
- Between 7 and 8 years: 32%
- Between 8 and 9 years: 36%
- Between 9 and 10 years: 40%
- Between 10 and 11 years: 44%
- Between 11 and 12 years: 48%
- Between 12 and 13 years: 52%
- Between 13 and 14 years: 56%
- Between 14 and 15 years: 60%
- Between 15 and 16 years: 64%
- Between 16 and 17 years: 68%
- Between 17 and 18 years: 72%
- Between 18 and 19 years: 76%
- Between 20 and 20 years: 80%
- Over 20 years: 100%, or for an indefinite term
For example, if couples had been married for 14 years and two months (170 months) when one spouse filed for divorce, maintenance payments would last for 60% of the length of their marriage, or eight years and six months (102 months).
One other change which went into effect in 2018 is the income limit under which the statutory formula for calculating maintenance will be used. These guidelines will apply to spouses with a combined gross income of less than $500,000; previously, the limit was $250,000. For spouses with a combined income greater than $500,000, the amount and duration of maintenance will be decided on a case-by-case basis, taking all relevant factors into account.
Contact an Elmhurst Divorce Lawyer
Determining the correct amount of spousal maintenance can often be a complex matter. If you need help demonstrating your eligibility for maintenance or ensuring that the amount and duration of the maintenance you pay or receive is calculated correctly, the attorneys at Weiss-Kunz & Oliver, LLC can advocate for your interests and protect your rights. Contact a Skokie spousal maintenance attorney at 312-605-4041 to schedule a consultation.