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Understanding Illinois Spousal Maintenance Law
08 Dec, 2021
Maintenance

Understanding Illinois Spousal Maintenance Law

Illinois laws related to spousal maintenance, which is also known as alimony or spousal support, have undergone significant changes in recent years, and relying on the experience or advice of a friend or family member who went through a divorce several years ago may not be accurate today.  For help applying the new law to your own case, it’s best to contact an experienced spousal maintenance attorney today. 

Prior Spousal Maintenance Law

In 2017, the Illinois Legislature passed House Bill 2537, which significantly changed how spousal maintenance is calculated in the state. Prior to this, courts were directed to assess several specific factors when determining whether spousal maintenance should be awarded in a particular case, including:

  • Each party’s income and property;
  • Each party’s financial needs;
  • Each party’s present and future earning capacity;
  • The standard of living established during the marriage;
  • The duration of the marriage;
  • The health, age, and occupation of each party;
  • Whether one spouse delayed education, training, or employment in order to devote time to domestic duties; and
  • Whether any parental responsibility or time-sharing arrangements are in effect.

After applying these factors to the specific circumstances of a case, courts were then directed to use a statutory formula to calculate how much maintenance should be awarded and how long it must be paid, but only if a couple had a combined income of less than $250,000. If eligible for maintenance, the length of a couple’s marriage was multiplied by a certain percentage to determine the amount.

New Spousal Maintenance Law

Under the new spousal maintenance law, which went into effect in January of 2018, a statutory formula is now used to determine maintenance if a couple’s income falls below $500,000, an increase of $250,000, which means that statutory formulas now apply to couples with higher incomes. If a couple’s combined income exceeds $500,000 a year, the court can instead use other factors to determine maintenance, including:

  • Each party’s present and future earning capacity;
  • The standard of living established during the marriage;
  • The duration of the marriage;
  • The tax consequences of property division; and
  • Whether any maintenance-related agreements were made between the spouses.

The statutory formula used in most cases involves multiplying the number of years that a couple has been married by a factor that goes up as the length of the marriage increases. For instance, if a marriage lasted less than five years, the court would multiply that number by .20 to determine how much spousal maintenance will be owed. The schedule continues as follows:

  • Marriages of five years are multiplied by .24;
  • Marriages of six years are multiplied by .28;
  • Marriages of seven years are multiplied by .32;
  • Marriages of eight years are multiplied by .36;
  • Marriages of nine years are multiplied by .40;
  • Marriages of 10 years are multiplied by .44;
  • Marriages of 11 years are multiplied by .48;
  • Marriages of 12 years are multiplied by .52;
  • Marriages of 13 years are multiplied by .56;
  • Marriages of 14 years are multiplied by .60;
  • Marriages of 15 years are multiplied by .64;
  • Marriages of 16 years are multiplied by .68;
  • Marriages of 17 years are multiplied by .72;
  • Marriages of 18 years are multiplied by .76; and
  • Marriages of 19 years are multiplied by .80.

For marriages lasting 20 years or more, maintenance is awarded on either an indefinite term or for a term that is equal to the length marriage.

Contact Our Legal Team Today

If you have questions about how spousal maintenance laws apply to your own case, please contact one of the dedicated Arlington Heights spousal maintenance lawyers at SLG Family Law today. We offer free initial consultations.

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