HomeBlogAlimony & Spousal SupportHow is Maintenance, Which was Formerly Known as Alimony, Calculated in Chicago Divorce Cases?

How is Maintenance, Which was Formerly Known as Alimony, Calculated in Chicago Divorce Cases?

Divorce is a difficult and emotional process, often involving complex financial considerations. In Illinois, like many other states, one of the key financial aspects of divorce is the determination of maintenance, formerly known as alimony. Maintenance is a financial support system that ensures that one spouse does not face financial hardship after a divorce. Understanding how maintenance is calculated in Illinois divorce cases is crucial for both parties involved. In this blog post, we will explore the factors and methods used to determine maintenance in the state of Illinois.

Maintenance, in the context of an Illinois divorce, is the financial support provided by one spouse to the other following the dissolution of their marriage. The purpose of maintenance is to help the lower-earning or non-earning spouse maintain a reasonable standard of living post-divorce. Illinois law recognizes that it is important to provide financial assistance to a spouse who may not have the same earning capacity or financial resources as the other.

Illinois uses a statutory formula to calculate maintenance, which was updated in 2015. The primary factors considered when determining maintenance include:

1. Income Disparity: The first and most critical factor in maintenance calculation is the income disparity between the spouses. The court assesses the difference in their gross incomes, considering all sources of income, including wages, bonuses, investments, and more.

2. Length of the Marriage: The duration of the marriage is another important consideration. The longer the marriage, the higher the likelihood of maintenance being awarded. Short-term marriages typically result in lower or no maintenance.

3. Standard of Living: The court evaluates the standard of living established during the marriage. The goal is to ensure that both spouses can continue to maintain a reasonably comparable standard of living post-divorce.

4. Financial Needs and Resources: The court also examines the financial needs and resources of each spouse. This includes their individual expenses, assets, and liabilities.

5. Contributions to the Marriage: The contributions made by each spouse to the marriage, both financial and non-financial, are considered. This includes contributions as a homemaker or caregiver.

6. Any Agreements Between the Parties: If the divorcing spouses have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that addresses maintenance, the court will take this into account.

To calculate maintenance, Illinois law uses a statutory formula. The formula takes 30% of the payer’s gross income and subtracts 20% of the recipient’s gross income. The result is the annual maintenance amount. However, this amount, when added to the recipient’s gross income, cannot exceed 40% of the combined gross income of the spouses.  For example, if one spouse earns $100,000 per year, and the other earns $40,000 per year, the maintenance calculation would look like this: (30% of $100,000) – (20% of $40,000) = $30,000 – $8,000 = $22,000 annually in maintenance.  It’s important to note that this formula provides a guideline for the court to consider, but it’s not the final word. Judges have discretion to adjust the maintenance amount based on the unique circumstances of each case.

The duration of maintenance is also determined based on a statutory guideline. In general, for marriages lasting less than 5 years, maintenance is typically awarded for 20% of the duration of the marriage. For marriages lasting 5 to 10 years, it’s awarded for 40% of the duration of the marriage. For marriages lasting 10 to 15 years, it’s awarded for 60% of the duration of the marriage. And for marriages lasting 15 years or more, maintenance may be awarded for 80% of the duration of the marriage. Judges have discretion to adjust the maintenance duration based on the unique circumstances of each case.

Maintenance, formerly known as alimony, plays a vital role in ensuring that the financial well-being of both spouses is considered when a marriage is dissolved. In Illinois, the calculation of maintenance involves a careful evaluation of several factors, including income disparity, the length of the marriage, and the financial needs and resources of both parties. Understanding how maintenance is calculated is essential for anyone going through a divorce in Illinois, as it can have a significant impact on post-divorce financial stability. If you are facing divorce, it is advisable to consult with a qualified family law attorney to navigate the complexities of maintenance and other legal issues associated with divorce in the state.  Reach out to Jennifer Ward of Ward Family Law, LLC today for a consultation via telephone at 312-803-5838 or to schedule via email at jward@wardfamilylawchicago.com.



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