Changes to Illinois Law Regarding Spousal Support Calculations
Since 2016, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) has included a specific formula for divorce courts to use when calculating how much one spouse must pay to the other in the form of maintenance, also known as spousal support or alimony. The formula is based on each spouse’s annual income and is intended to provide additional support for spouses who earn substantially less than their partners earn. When the formula was created in 2016, it was meant to be applied in situations where the spouses earned less than $250,000 per year combined. Thanks to an update to the law that was passed last year, the formula must now be used in many more situations.
Determining the Need for Maintenance
Maintenance is not automatic in an Illinois divorce. The judge presiding over a particular case must determine if a bona fide need for spousal support exists. In making that determination, the court will consider a number of factors, including each spouse’s age, health, income, and employability, as well as the arrangements that have been made for the couple’s children, if any. The court must also take into account the length of the marriage, the standard of living established, and sacrifices or contributions made by either spouse to the other’s career.
Income Limits for Maintenance Calculations
Beginning this year, if maintenance is found to be necessary, the court must now use the provided formula if the couple’s combined gross is equal to or less than $500,000 and neither spouse has previous obligations for spousal or child support. If the formula applies, the court will find the amount of support to be paid by taking 30 percent of the paying spouse’s income and subtracting 20 percent of the receiving spouse’s income. The remainder will be the amount payable. If the maintenance amount plus the receiving spouse’s income exceeds 40 percent of the couple’s combined income, the maintenance amount must be lowered.
In situations where the couple’s income exceeds $500,000, the court will set a fair amount based on the factors that made maintenance necessary. The court must be able to justify its decisions based on findings of fact.
Duration of Maintenance
The amended law also updated the tables provided in the law for how long maintenance payments should continue. Before this year, the courts relied on a weighted scale that determined the duration of a maintenance order as a percentage of how long the marriage lasted. For example, a marriage that lasted for more than 10 years but less than 15 years, a necessary maintenance order would last for 60 percent of the length of the marriage. The percentage increased significantly with every five years of marriage up to 20 years.
This year’s amendment removed the large increases at every five-year interval. The minimum duration of a maintenance order is now 20 percent for marriages of under five years. For each year of marriage, the percentage goes up four points. For example, a support order for a five-year marriage will last 24 percent of the duration of the marriage while a support order for a six-year marriage will be set at 28 percent. For marriages of 20 years or longer, the court may award support for an amount of time that is equal to the duration of marriage “or for an indefinite term.”
We Can Help
The laws regarding the calculation of spousal maintenance in Illinois are complex, but our experienced DuPage County family law attorneys can help simplify them for you. Call 630-665-7300 for a confidential consultation at MKFM Law today.