Calculating a Spousal Maintenance Order
Spousal maintenance, though not presumed to be necessary in Illinois, is often made mandatory by judges looking to ensure that each spouse is able to maintain him- or her-self after a divorce. Several years ago, the process for determining maintenance obligations in Illinois was a lightning rod for controversy, as rulings varied widely depending on the particular county or judge in question. In early 2015, significant changes were made leading to today’s more standardized law. Still, determining or modifying spousal maintenance remains a complex endeavor.
A New Standard
The formula for determining the amount of maintenance changed about two and a half years ago with the passage of an amendment to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). Previously, spousal support had been determined almost entirely by a judge’s discretion, though there was (and still is) a list of factors that judges had to consider while making the determination. The amended law introduced a standardized formula for most situations and urged judges to exercise a narrower breadth of discretion in the cases for which the formula did not apply.
The formula is used in cases where a family’s combined gross income before taxes is less than $250,000 and there is no “multiple family situation”—meaning neither spouse is paying or receiving spousal or child support from a previous marriage. The court must also have determined that support is appropriate. If these factors do not apply to your situation, the old rule will apply, meaning that the judge will carefully weigh all relevant factors before making a decision.
Both the amount and duration of spousal support can be determined using these formulas. The actual math can be quite complex, involving percentages of your income and your spouse’s, as well as factoring in the length of your marriage. However, if you provide the correct information to your attorney, he or she can assist you in estimating your responsibilities.
Interplay With Child Support
One important factor to keep in mind is that while these guidelines do not technically apply to child support calculations, they will indirectly affect that formula as well. Child support is generally determined by a calculation based on both parents’ combined income. However, in order to calculate the amount of income available from which to draw child support, maintenance must be calculated first.
The IMDMA states that a deduction in net income must be made for other payments being granted to the same party to whom you will pay child support. In other words, if you are ordered to pay spousal support, your net income from which to calculate your child support amount will be less.
An Experienced Maintenance Attorney Can Help
If you have questions about how much maintenance you may have to pay or receive, it is always best to consult a lawyer. The dedicated DuPage County family law attorneys at MKFM Law can provide the guidance you need with your case. Call 630-665-7300 for a confidential consultation today.