Category Archives: Alimony/Maintenance
Out With the Old & In With the New: Big Changes to the Illinois Marriage & Dissolution of Marriage Act
On January 1, 2016, many changes took effect with regard to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (“IMDMA” or “Act”). The revised statute looks very different from the law Illinois family law attorneys and their clients have come to know. Detailed below are some noteworthy areas where the law concerning divorce, parenting, and property division has changed.
Changes to Grounds for Divorce:
The revised IMDMA has eliminated all fault-based grounds for divorce. Since 1977, Illinois has had both “no-fault” and “fault-based” grounds for divorce. Now, couples in Illinois are left with a single ground for divorce, “irreconcilable differences”. Additionally, the revised statute eliminates the two (2) year separation period previously required to dissolve a marriage. The aforementioned provision was replaced with a six (6) month separation period which provides, “If the parties live separate and apart for a continuous period of not less than 6 months immediately preceding the entry of the judgment dissolving the marriage, there is an irrebuttable presumption that the requirement of irreconcilable differences has been met.” 750 ILCS 5/401(a-5). Thus, an individual seeking a divorce in Illinois now only needs to assert that irreconcilable differences have led to an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and the parties have lived separate and apart for six (6) consecutive months by the time a judgment of divorce is entered. Litigants should be aware that living separate and apart does not mean an actual physical separation of the divorcing spouses. The parties merely must cease living together as a husband and wife would for at least six (6) months; however, effectuating this requirement can take place while living under the same roof.
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.
Under the new statute, if the combined gross income (before taxes) of both parties is less than $250,000, no multiple family situation exists, and the court determines that spousal support is appropriate, spousal maintenance will be determined in accordance with the guidelines below:
Types of Post-Decree Litigation
Think you’re done with your ex once your divorce is finalized?
While that is surely the goal, not everyone is so lucky. Many former spouses find themselves back in court years after the entry of their divorce judgments seeking to either a modify or enforce their divorce decrees.
Post-decree includes all litigation that occurs after a decree of divorce, dissolution of marriage, legal separation, or judgment of paternity is entered. Post-decree lawyers will often receive inquiries from former or new clients requesting one or more of the following:
New spousal support guidelines are coming to Illinois January 1, 2015. This blog post overviews the potential pros and cons of this new legislation.
To see how the new spousal support formula will work: Click here
The current law essentially awards spousal support, or maintenance as its also referred to, at the judge’s discretion after consideration of numerous factors. This has led maintenance awards to vary widely from case to case and the inconsistency made it difficult for family law attorneys to give clients a concrete answer to the question: “how much spousal support will I pay or receive and for how long?” Therefore, rather than settling their cases, many parties instead would choose to “gamble” and go to trial hoping to receive a better maintenance determination from the judge than they could negotiate out of court.
While every divorce is different based on the parties, in general divorce law can be boiled down to 5 main areas:
Visitation or Parenting Time
Maintenance or Alimony
What many people tend to misunderstanding about child custody is that it actually is NOT the time spent with your children. Rather custody involves having the decision making authority to be able to decide the so-called “big decisions” that involve the upbringing of your children. The three decision-making areas that the law focuses on are religion, medical care, and education. Parents must be able to agree on these three areas in order to be eligible for joint custody. Elsewise sole custody is generally sought and a custody battle ensues.
Recent changes to Illinois legislation regarding spousal support will be making a huge impact on the finances of divorcing couples. Previously, the laws were relatively vague offering major discretion to judges on the “if’s and when’s” and how much spousal support should be paid and for how long.
Effective January 2015, more formal guidelines will allocate spousal support. The two main changes are as follows:
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.
Major changes are on the horizon in 2015 in terms of spousal support. Unlike child support, where the statute sets clear guideline amounts based on the number of children, the amount and duration of spousal support payments had not been clearly defined. However, all of that just changed with the passing of Public Act 98-0961. Previously, courts were given substantial discretion when determining amounts and the duration of spousal support based on a list of factors for judges to consider, including, but not limited to, the length of the parties’ marriage, the present and future earning capacity of each party, and the duration of the marriage.
Alimony, also known as maintenance, refers to one spouse paying a monthly stipend to his or her spouse during or after a divorce or legal separation. Only married couples are eligible for spousal support. This does not apply to parentage cases for child custody; in those scenarios, support is given to the child and that is referred to as child support. In divorce cases that also involve children, there will also likely be a provision for child support, which is separate from alimony.
Consider this our introduction. This being the first blog entry for The Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C., we might as well take some time to tell you a little bit about us and what we do. We are a law firm with offices in Chicago, Illinois and Skokie, Illinois concentrating on the practice of family law.
We pride ourselves on providing superb representation to our clients, resulting in an excellent reputation and ranking among the elite family law firms in Chicago, Illinois. We look forward to sharing our thoughts with you on a weekly basis. For more information on our firm, please check out our law firm’s website.