The New Illinois Maintenance (Alimony) Law

Jonathan Merel


Effective January 1, 2015, Section 504 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) was modified, creating sweeping changes in how maintenance (otherwise known as alimony) is determined for divorcing couples in the State of Illinois. This affected how Illinois maintenance is calculated.

Under the new statute, if the combined gross income (before taxes) of both parties is less than $250,000, if no multiple family situation exists, and if the court determines that spousal support is appropriate, then spousal maintenance will be determined in accordance with the guidelines below:

  1. The amount of spousal support (1) shall be calculated by taking 30% of the payor’s gross income minus 20% of the payee’s gross income. The amount calculated as maintenance, however, when added to the gross income of the payee, may not result in the payee receiving an amount that is in excess of 40% of the combined gross income of the parties.
  2. The duration of spousal support (1) shall be calculated by multiplying the length of the marriage by whichever of the following factors applies: 0-5 years (.20); 5-10 years (.40); 10-15 years (.60); or 15-20 years (.80). For a marriage of 20 or more years, the court, in its discretion, shall order either permanent spousal maintenance or maintenance for a period equal to the length of the marriage.

If a divorcing couple’s combined annual gross income is more than $250,000, the new guidelines provided in Section 504 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (“IMDMA”) will not be applied and the court will determine maintenance as done prior to the implementation of the new law. To determine the appropriate maintenance amount and duration for these couples, courts will apply the following factors (as listed in Section 504(a) of the IMDMA) before arriving at a decision:

(1) the income and property of each party, including marital property apportioned and non-marital property assigned to the party seeking maintenance;
(2) the needs of each party;
(3) the present and future earning capacity of each party;
(4) any impairment of the present and future earning capacity of the party seeking maintenance due to that party devoting time to domestic duties or having forgone or delayed education, training, employment, or career opportunities due to the marriage;
(5) the time necessary to enable the party seeking maintenance to acquire appropriate education, training, and employment, and whether that party is able to support himself or herself through appropriate employment or is the custodian of a child making it appropriate that the custodian not seek employment;
(6) the standard of living established during the marriage;
(7) the duration of the marriage;
(8) the age and the physical and emotional condition of both parties;
(9) the tax consequences of the property division upon the respective economic circumstances of the parties;
(10) contributions and services by the party seeking maintenance to the education, training, career or career potential, or license of the other spouse;
(11) any valid agreement of the parties; and
(12) any other factor that the court expressly finds to be just and equitable.

Illinois courts will use discretion in applying the aforementioned factors to determine the appropriate amount and duration of maintenance. For more information regarding the new maintenance law in Illinois and how it may impact you, contact the attorneys at The Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C., an elite Chicago law firm specializing in the practice of divorce and family law. Our office number is (312) 487-2795.

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