On the first of this year, Illinois adopted new laws regarding maintenance (formerly known as alimony) in divorce cases. The changes are dramatic and have already been causing a massive shift in the way divorce cases are tried and settled throughout the state. These changes only apply to marriages in which the combined annual gross income of both parties is less than $250,000. The full text of the new maintenance (alimony) law can be read here, however the pertinent changes for purposes of this article are as follows:
In situations when the combined gross income of the parties is less than $250,000 and no multiple family situation exists, maintenance payable after the date the parties’ marriage is dissolved shall be in accordance with subparagraphs (A) and (B) of this paragraph (1), unless the court makes a finding that the application of the guidelines would be inappropriate. (A) The amount of maintenance under this paragraph (1) shall be calculated by taking 30% of the payor’s gross income minus 20% of the payee’s gross income. The amount calculated as maintenance, however, when added to the gross income of the payee, may not result in the payee receiving an amount that is in excess of 40% of the combined gross income of the parties. (B) The duration of an award under this paragraph (1) shall be calculated by multiplying the length of the marriage by whichever of the following factors applies: 0-5 years (.20); 5-10 years (.40); 10-15 years (.60); or 15-20 years (.80). For a marriage of 20 or more years, the court, in its discretion, shall order either permanent maintenance or maintenance for a period equal to the length of the marriage.
Notably, the changes affect both the duration as well as the amount of maintenance (alimony) payments -often resulting in a strikingly different result as opposed to the old maintenance guidelines. As for the duration of the maintenance payments, the statue now provides that the length of the marriage is multiplied by a factor to generate the term of maintenance. The table below illustrates maintenance duration pursuant to the new statute
|Years Married||Duration of Maintenance (Alimony)|
Permanent or equal to the duration of the marriage
As for the amount of maintenance (alimony), the statue provides that it shall be determined by talking 30% of the gross income payor (the individual paying the maintenance) less 20% of the gross income of the payee (the individual receiving the maintenance). This of course may amount to a massive number in the frequent event that the payee is unemployed, a homemaker or is deliberately reducing their income. In order the limit the size of a maintenance award in instances such as this, the statute caps the total amount of maintenance to be paid at 40% of the combined gross income of the parties.
The new Illinois maintenance (alimony) laws are not mandatory -that is to say that a divorce Judge is not required to follow them. In cases where a spouse is unemployed, a homemaker or is deliberately reducing their income it may be appropriate to deviate from the statutory guidelines.
To learn more about the new Illinois maintenance (alimony) laws or to schedule a free in-office consultation with attorney Michael Gauthier, either call our offices or email Michael Gauthier.