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Alimony in Illinois

One of the most important, and complicated, issues you need to think about when you are getting a divorce in Illinois is maintenance. (In Illinois, alimony is known as “maintenance” or “spousal support.”)

No matter what Illinois divorce process you use, figuring out whether you may be entitled to get maintenance, or may have to pay maintenance in Illinois is a three-step process.

First, you have to determine whether maintenance is appropriate in your particular divorce case. You do that by considering the factors that are in the Illinois Maintenance law.

If maintenance/alimony is appropriate in your divorce, then you apply a guideline formula to figure out how much may be paid/received. You also apply a guideline formula to figure out the length of time for which maintenance may be paid/received.

Young woman thinking about alimony in Illinois looking down over big glassesHow to Figure out Alimony in Illinois

Step #1: Is Maintenance Appropriate in Your Divorce?

To figure out whether maintenance will even be considered in your divorce, you need to look at many different factors. In general, these factors are:

  • Each spouse’s income and property (“Property” includes both marital and non-marital property);
  • Each spouse’s needs;
  • How much each spouse could realistically earn;
  • Whether the spouse who is seeking maintenance is making less money because s/he was a stay-at-home parent or delayed his/her own education, training, employment, or career opportunities due to the marriage;
  • Whether the earning capacity of the spouse who would be paying maintenance is or may be impaired;
  • The time it would take the spouse seeking maintenance to get education, training, and a job.
  • The standard of living established during the marriage;
  • The length of the marriage;
  • The age, health, station, occupation, vocational skills, employability, sources of income, liabilities and needs of each spouse;
  • All sources of public and private income including disability and retirement income;
  • The tax consequences of the property division in the divorce;
  • How much the spouse seeking maintenance contributed to the education, training, career, or license of the other spouse;
  • The terms of any valid prenuptial agreement; and
  • Any other factor that the court expressly finds to be just and equitable.

As you can see, there’s a lot involved in figuring out whether your divorce will involve maintenance. What’s more, courts have a lot of discretion when considering these factors. That means that determining whether your case will involve maintenance is NOT always easy!

To get more information on whether maintenance may be a factor in your divorce, check with a local Illinois divorce lawyer. To view the exact language of the Illinois maintenance statute, CLICK HERE.

Maze of white squares with one covered with dollar bills and a red question mark on top of it.Step #2: How Much Maintenance Should You Pay/Get?

Once you find that maintenance is appropriate in your case, step two is to calculate how much maintenance should be paid/received.

In Illinois, maintenance is now calculated based upon NET income. (NOTE: Before January 1, 2019, alimony in Illinois was calculated based upon GROSS income. So, if you got divorced before January 1, 2019, your divorce used a different formula.)

The current formula for maintenance in Illinois is: 33% of the payor’s NET income, minus 25% of the payee’s NET income. However, the total amount the payee receives can’t be more than 40% of the parties’ combined net incomes.

Calculating Illinois maintenance is a three-step process.

Step 1: Calculate the 33% – 25% of net income amount.

So, for example, let’s say the person who will pay spousal support makes $90,000 NET income per year and the person who will receive that support makes $30,000 NET income per year. The maintenance calculation would look like this:

$90,000 x .33 = $29,700

-$30,000 x .25 =     7,500

Maintenance  = $ 22,200 … But you can’t stop your calculation here. You MUST go to steps 2 and 3.

STEP 2: Calculate 40% of the combined net incomes.

Here’s the calculation to figure that out:

$120,000 Combined net incomes ($90,000 + $30,000)

x       .40 (40%)

= $48,000 (maximum amount of income the receiving spouse can have when you add his/her earnings plus maintenance.)

STEP 3: Calculate guideline maintenance

$30,000 (Receiving spouse’s income)

+22,200 (Maintenance based upon Step 1)

=$52,200 – Since this is more than 40% of the combined net incomes, the MOST maintenance the receiving spouse can get is calculated as follows:

$48,000 (40% of combined net incomes)

30,000  (receiving spouse’s net income)

$18,000 – Guideline Maintenance Amount

As you can see, this can get complicated. If you have questions, or want to get a more precise calculation in your case, have an Illinois divorce lawyer or an Illinois divorce financial planner run the calculations for you.

Hourglass with sands of time turning into gold coins signifying time and money.Step #3: How Long Should Maintenance Be Paid?

Just like there is a formula for figuring out how much maintenance should be paid, there is also a formula for how long maintenance should be paid.

The length of time you will pay or receive maintenance depends on how long you were married.

Chart depicting the length of time to pay maintenance/alimony in Illinois

Multiply the length of your marriage (from the day you were married until the day you or your spouse filed for divorce) by the appropriate factor:

  • less than 5 years (.20);
  • 5 > 6 years (.24);
  • 6 > 7 years (.28);
  • 7 > 8 years (.32);
  • 8 > 9 years (.36);
  • 9 > 10 years (.40);
  • 10 > 11 years (.44);
  • 11 > 12 years (.48);
  • 12 > 13 years (.52);
  • 13 > 14 years (.56);
  • 14 > 15 years (.60);
  • 15 > 16 years (.64);
  • 16 > 17 years (.68);
  • 17 > 18 years (.72);
  • 18 > 19 years (.76);
  • 19 > 20 years (.80).

For a marriage of 20 or more years, maintenance lasts either as many years as the marriage, or for an indefinite term.

Person with bag over head and a confused face standing in front of a chalkboard with arrows on it pointing every which way.Alimony in Illinois: It’s Complicated!

Figuring out alimony in Illinois isn’t easy! Not only can the calculations be a bit tricky, but what’s even more confusing is that these calculations are only GUIDELINES.

What does that mean?

It means that the court has the discretion to vary from those guidelines in appropriate circumstances. An Illinois judge can award more, or less, maintenance than the guidelines require.

If a judge does vary from guideline maintenance/support s/he must state the reasons for the deviation.

As always, the best way to know whether maintenance will be a factor in your divorce, as well as how much may need to be paid, and for how long it may need to be paid, is to talk with a good Illinois divorce lawyer near you.

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