New Maintenance Statute in Illinois

Statute in Illinois

As of January 1, 2015, Illinois has a completely new statute dealing with maintenance (formerly known as alimony and sometimes called spousal support). Never before have we had a statutory formula for how to calculate maintenance. The reasons given by the drafters of the law was that Illinois judges were all over the map when awarding or not awarding maintenance. There was no consistency or predictability so they had to pass law with some guidelines. That said, judges can still do what they want (i.e. deviate from the statute), if they have good reasons to do so. Arguments can always be made that the guidelines should not apply to a case. If course if the guidelines are favorable for your situation, you would argue the guidelines and vice versa.

How much is the monthly amount?

Take 30% of the higher income earner’s gross income less 20% of the low income earners income to get the annual amount. For example, 30% of the $100,000 is $30,000. 20% of $40,000 is $8,000. The guideline maintenance is the above case would be $30,000 less $8,000 resulting $22,000 annually or $1,833 per month. However, there is a cap on the amount of maintenance someone can receive and it’s 40% of the total gross incomes. So in this case, the most person earning $40,000 could have at the end of the day is $56,000 annually. That’s because $56,000 is 40% of the $140000. So the resulting maintenance would be $16,000 per year or $1,333 per month.

How long does someone have to pay?

This is where the real change has come. First, Judges always have the ability to deny, limit or expand maintenance it just more difficult now. The length of maintenance is the number of years of marriage x a numerical factor. Below is are ratios”

0-5 years: .20
5-10 years: .40
10-15 years: .60
15-20 years: .80

Any marriages over 20 years can be permanent maintenance.

I am convinced there will be changes and modifications to this new law in the next 2 or 3 years or less. Over the next 18 months to 2 years, there will be lawyers appealing maintenance orders to the appellate or Illinois Supreme Court. When those decisions come down we will get more guidance on how to interpret this statute and when it can be deviated from.