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Understanding Illinois’ Statutory Guidelines for Spousal Maintenance

Posted on in Divorce

Elgin spousal maintenance lawyerWhen a couple decides to end their marriage and get divorced, one spouse is often at a financial disadvantage. Whether this is because they have chosen to be a homemaker rather than pursue a career, or simply because they earn a smaller income, they may struggle to make ends meet. In these cases, the law provides them with the ability to receive payments from their former partner which will allow them to maintain a similar standard of living to what they enjoyed while they were married.

In Illinois, the guidelines for determining maintenance (which is also known as spousal support or alimony) are a factor of the parties’ joint income. In matters of maintenance, there is a payor (the person paying out the maintenance) and a payee (the person receiving the maintenance). There is also an important line of demarcation: $500,000. Maintenance award formulas differ, depending on whether the parties’ income is below this figure or not.

A Forty Percent Cap May Complicate Maintenance Calculations

Starting on January 1, 2018, a maintenance award where the parties’ joint income is less than $500,000 annually should equal 30% of the payor’s gross income minus 20% of the payee’s gross income, with the caveat that the award, after being added to the payee’s gross income, cannot be greater than 40% of the parties’ combined gross income. To make this formula more tangible, let us consider an example: 

The payor ex-spouse grosses $100,000 a year, and the payee ex-spouse earns $50,000. 30% of $100,000 is $30,000, and 20% of $50,000 is $10,000. Subtract $10,000 from $30,000 and the result is $20,000 – the amount which would be owed annually by the payor ex-spouse. However, a problem arises when we remember to check compliance with 40% caveat. With the payee ex-spouse earning $50,000 and receiving $20,000 in maintenance, the total – $70,000 – equals 46% of the parties’ combined gross income. To comply with the 40% rule, the maintenance award must be reduced to $10,000 annually, so that the payee’s adjusted gross income does not exceed $60,000 (which is 40% of the parties’ combined gross income of $150,000). 

Returning to the language of the governing legislation, this is the maintenance award framework “in situations when the combined gross annual income of the parties is less than $500,000 and the payor has no obligation to pay child support or maintenance or both from a prior relationship.”

A Calculation You Can Trust

In situations where the parties’ joint income is over $500,000, maintenance will generally be determined on a case-by-case basis, considering a number of factors, including each party’s income, assets, age, health, prior contributions, standard of living, and future earning capabilities. In such instances, the knowledge of an experienced divorce attorney is an asset in proving the factors under consideration. At Ariano Hardy Ritt Nyuli Richmond Lytle & Goettel P.C., our attorneys can help you determine a fair and equitable maintenance award in your divorce. Contact our experienced St. Charles divorce attorneys at 847-695-2400 to schedule a free initial consultation.



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