Determining Amount of Maintenance
When involved in a divorce, it is possible that the court will order one spouse to pay the other spouse maintenance. These payments are intended to help support the spouse with a lower income. Whether maintenance payments are ordered depends upon numerous factors. Maintenance is not awarded in all divorces. However, when it is awarded, Illinois now provides judges with guidelines to help with calculating payments, although it is not mandatory that the guidelines be followed in all cases.
What is Maintenance?
The most significant form of maintenance is permanent, which is typically awarded when it is unlikely that a spouse will be able to secure adequate employment. Temporary maintenance can be granted for the period during which a divorce is pending or until the final judgment is entered. Finally, rehabilitative maintenance is granted to a spouse in order to allow him or her to complete an education or otherwise gain experience and skills which will enable the individual to secure gainful employment. Regardless of the type of maintenance, if the spouse ordered to pay maintenance does not make timely payments, the unpaid obligation accrues simple interest.
How is Maintenance Calculated?
If the combined gross income of the spouses is below $250,000, and a multiple family situation is not present, the maintenance award is generally determined by using the new guidelines developed by the Illinois legislature. The maintenance award is calculated by subtracting 20 percent of the recipient's gross income from 30 percent of the payor's gross income. However, the gross income of the recipient combined with the maintenance award cannot be greater than 40 percent of the combined gross income of the parties.
The duration of the maintenance award depends upon the length of a marriage. In order to calculate how long maintenance must be paid, judges multiply the length of a marriage by one of the following factors:
- Marriage lasted for zero to five years - .20;
- Marriage lasted for five to 10 years - .40;
- Marriage lasted for 10 to 15 years - .60; or
- Marriage lasted for 15 to 20 years - .80.
In the case of marriages that lasted for over 20 years, the court has, within its discretion, the ability to order permanent maintenance or maintenance for a period equal to the length of the marriage.
It is possible for a judge to deviate from the guidelines in making the maintenance amount calculation. If this occurs, the judge must state in his or her findings the reason for deviating from the guidelines. In cases where the judge decides not to use the guidelines, he or she will consider 12 factors set out by Illinois law. Some of these factors include each party's income and property, past and present future earning capacity and needs.
Maintenance is often a very important issue that needs to be resolved in a divorce. If you would like more information about the divorce process, including issues related to maintenance, reach out to an experienced Illinois family law attorney today at 630-665-7300. At MKFM Law, we have the knowledge and expertise to help you.