When you are trying to understand the financial costs of a divorce, you may wonder about alimony. In the Illinois family court system, alimony is called spousal maintenance.
On January 1, 2015, new spousal maintenance guidelines went into effect that made the payment of spousal support much more predictable.
When Spousal Maintenance is Appropriate
Before any spousal maintenance is paid, a judge must decide if maintenance is appropriate and looks to what would be equitable under the circumstances. If a judge believes one spouse will need extra financial help, then he or she is likely to order the payment of spousal maintenance.
Judges often consider the length of the marriage, if one spouse was the primary caretaker of any children and stayed out of the workforce, and the likely ability of both spouses to earn more income and accrue new assets.
Reasons spousal maintenance would not be ordered include whether or not both spouses earned close to the same amount of money, or if the spouse who would receive support has serious substance abuse or gambling issues.
The Formula for Maintenance
Spousal maintenance is now similar to child support. The law provides a formula to set the amount of the maintenance. Judges do not have to follow the formula; however, they must justify the reasons for not using the formula.
The spousal maintenance formula only applies to cases where the combined gross income is less than $250,000. The formula takes 30 percent of the gross income of the spouse who will be paying the maintenance minus 20 percent of the gross income for the spouse who will be receiving the maintenance. However, the maintenance should not put the gross income for the spouse receiving the payments to more than 40 percent of the combined income.
Here is an example:
- Spouse A has a gross income of $100,000;
- Spouse B has a gross income of $25,000;
- 30 percent of $100,000 is $30,000;
- 20 percent of $25,000 is $5,000; and
- $30,000 – $5,000 is $25,000.
The annual spousal maintenance would be $25,000 and would be paid in even amounts every month. The formula looks at the length of the marriage to determine how long spousal maintenance payments should continue.
If a marriage lasted between zero and five years, then the payment period would be 20 percent of the length of the marriage. A five-year marriage would mean payments would last one year. If the marriage is between five and 10 years, then the payment period is 40 percent the length of the marriage. A ten-year marriage would mean payments last for four years.
The longer the length of the marriage, the longer the spousal maintenance payments will continue. In marriages lasting more than 20 years, a judge can order payments to continue for the same length of time as the marriage.
If you have questions about spousal maintenance, child support, property division, or any other family law issue, you need to speak with a knowledgeable DuPage County divorce attorney. Call Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C. today at 630-665-7676 to schedule a consultation.