Illinois has a specific formula to follow when calculating the amount and duration of a spouse’s maintenance obligation or award. This formula was first made in 2015, and its statute was modified only a few years later in 2019 due to a change in federal income tax law. Even more changes occurred in early 2022, which we discuss in more detail below.
Starting in 2019, Illinois alimony is calculated by subtracting 25% of the payee’s net income from 33.3% of the payor’s net income. However, the recipient may not receive more than 40% of the household’s net income. Additionally, statutory alimony calculations under 750 ILCS 5/504 now apply to couples with a combined gross income of up to $500,000 per year. If the combined annual gross income exceeds that amount, the courts have discretion in determining the amount and duration of the obligation/award.
Consider this example: The payer spouse makes $100,000 a year in net income. 33% of this amount is $33,000. The recipient spouse makes $40,000 a year. 25% of this amount is $10,000. The yearly maintenance paid would be $23,000, or $33,000 minus $10,000. This amount is permissible under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act because $23,000 is less than 40% of the combined income amount of $140,000.
For more information about what your spousal maintenance or alimony amount might look like, please feel free to use this Illinois alimony payment estimator.
Below, we have a few basic examples of different spousal maintenance calculations. Please note that this table doesn’t consider spousal maintenance duration.
Higher Earner's Annual Net Income Other Spouse's Annual Net Income Estimated Monthly Maintenance Paid or Received $50,000 $30,000 $166.67 $75,000 $30,000 $1,000 $100,000 $30,000 $1,833.33 $125,000 $30,000 $2,666.67 $150,000 $30,000 $3,500
In 2022, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act was updated again. Among other things, the update made it clearer that spousal maintenance can be categorized into five different forms.
Five forms of spousal maintenance in Illinois include: Temporary: A temporary spousal support order covers the living costs and usual expenses of the spouses when they live apart and while the divorce order is pending. It will terminate or be replaced when the divorce is finalized. Fixed-term: A fixed-term spousal maintenance order arranges alimony payments for only a set amount of time. It is often used when one spouse stopped pursuing their career to take care of the household and now needs to find a way to make a gainful income, such as completing an educational course. Reviewable: Similar to fixed-term, reviewable spousal maintenance requires a periodic court review of the order to make sure it is still appropriate. If it is not, then it can be canceled or modified. Permanent: A permanent spousal maintenance order will require the paying spouse to provide monthly support payments for as long as the receiving spouse is alive. This order is only possible when the marriage has lasted 20 or more years. Lump-sum: If the amount that the spousal maintenance required can be fairly calculated before the order is finalized, then it can be paid as a lump-sum payment. For example, if it is agreed that $50,000 would be a fair amount to let the receiving spouse complete their university degree and use that to get gainful employment, then that amount could be paid all at once.
When the combined gross income of the household exceeds $500,000, the court will have its discretion when deciding on spousal maintenance or alimony. In such a case, the court will consider different factors when awarding maintenance, rather than sticking strictly to the state’s calculator.
The court can consider these factors when deciding alimony and others: Income, assets, and debts of each party Current and future income earning capacity Constraints on earning capacity like lack of education Duration of marriage Standard of living during the marriage Child custody and parenting time arrangements Age and health of each party Tax consequences each party experiences
When the court needs to decide the duration of spousal maintenance, one key deciding factor is the overall length or duration of the marriage. The duration of the alimony will be equal to a percentage of the number of years the spouses were married. The duration percentage begins at
20% for marriages that last fewer than 5 years. For every year of marriage added, the percentage increases by 4% but caps at 80% for marriages that lasted 19 years. If the marriage lasted for 20 or more years, then permanent alimony is likely.
For example, a marriage that lasted for 7 years could have a spousal maintenance order that lasts for 32% of those 7 years. Using this formula, the spousal maintenance order would last for approximately 27 months.
In Illinois, spousal maintenance is meant to make sure both parties can bounce back financially after a divorce. The greater earning spouse during the course of the marriage will make maintenance payments to the lesser earning spouse. For example, a stay-at-home parent who has been out of the workforce for many years may not be in a position to earn a gainful income to match what their spouse was making. Spousal support provides for the standard of living they've grown accustomed to while giving them time to find a job, go back to school, and/or save up their own money.
Only married couples are eligible for spousal support. Maintenance will not be awarded to a partner in the case of a breakup, nor is it paid to children.
Call Our Chicago Spousal Maintenance Attorneys Today
The Chicago alimony attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C. have both prosecuted and defended countless cases in which spousal maintenance is a key issue. We are experienced in arguing such cases before the court when litigation is necessary and engaging in settlement negotiations when settlement hinges on the resolution of a maintenance issue. No matter what is happening in your alimony case, you know that you can depend on us to be there to support you and protect your best interests.
Discuss your alimony case today. Call (312) 487-2795 or complete our online contact form .