How Spousal Maintenance Is Determined in Illinois

Illinois divorce lawyerMarriage is a partnership, and spouses often make sacrifices during their relationship as they support their partner and their family. In many cases, one spouse will decide to stay home to care for children rather than pursuing career advancement, or a spouse may provide financial support to their partner as they pursue an education that will help them earn a higher salary. However, if the marriage ends in divorce, the spouse who made sacrifices is often at a financial disadvantage, and they may struggle to support themselves in their newly single life.

Following a divorce, both spouses should be able to maintain a standard of living similar to what they enjoyed while they were married. When one spouse earns significantly more than the other, the other spouse may be awarded spousal maintenance (formerly known as alimony).

Determining Maintenance in Illinois

When determining whether maintenance is appropriate, a judge has a great deal of discretion, and they will consider a number of factors, including the income of each spouse, the spouses’ standard of living during their marriage, the property each spouse was awarded during the divorce, whether one spouse contributed to the other’s education or training, and whether a spouse’s ability to earn an income has been impaired because they decided not to pursue education or career opportunities due to the marriage.

If maintenance is granted, a specific statutory formula will be used to determine the amount and duration of spousal support payments. This amount is calculated by taking 30% of the paying spouse’s gross income and subtracting 20% of the receiving spouse’s gross income. The total of the receiving spouse’s gross income and the maintenance they receive cannot be higher than 40% of the spouses’ combined gross incomes.

The duration of maintenance payments depends on the length of the marriage, using the following percentages:

  • Less than five years: 20%
  • Five to ten years: 40%
  • 10 to 15 years: 60%
  • 15 to 20 years: 80%
  • 20 or more years: 100%, or permanent maintenance

Spousal Maintenance in Practice

To better understand how maintenance is determined, here are some examples:

  1. Mark and Jamie were married for 12 years, and at the time of their divorce, Mark made $100,000 per year, while Jamie made $30,000. Thirty percent of Mark’s income is $30,000, and 20% of Jamie’s income is $6,000, so applying the formula would result in $24,000 per year. However, 40% of the couple’s combined income of $130,000 is $52,000, so Jamie would only receive $22,000 per year in maintenance. These payments will last for 60% of the length of the marriage or 7.2 years.
  2. Tim and Pauline were married for seven years, with Tim making $50,000 and Pauline making $90,000 at the time of the divorce. Thirty percent of Pauline’s income is $27,000, and 20% of Tim’s income is $10,000, which would result in $17,000 in maintenance. However, 40% of the couple’s combined income of $140,000 is $56,000, so Tim would receive $6,000 in maintenance each year, and these payments would last for 40% of the length of the marriage or 2.8 years.

Contact a Hinsdale Divorce Attorney

During your divorce, the compassionate, knowledgeable attorneys at Martoccio & Martoccio can advocate for you to receive the support you deserve as you begin this new phase of your life. Contact a Hinsdale spousal maintenance lawyer at 630-920-8855 to schedule a free consultation.


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