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New Maintenance Guidelines Will Take Effect in Illinois

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Recently, Illinois passed a new statute for the calculation and award of maintenance that is effective January 1, 2015. Until now, there has been no specific guideline for determining maintenance, as there is for child support in Illinois. Judges could use their own discretion in the final decision of the amount and duration of an award of maintenance.

Prior to this change, the court primarily considered twelve factors which are set forth in the statute before awarding maintenance. These factors include but are not limited to the length of the marriage, the ages of the husband and wife, the income of each party, and the standard of living established during the marriage.

Under the new statute, these twelve factors are still considered to determine if maintenance will be awarded. However, if maintenance is deemed appropriate, there are now guidelines for the judges to follow with regard to the amount and duration.

With regard to the amount of maintenance awarded, these new guidelines will apply in cases where the total income of both parties is less than $250,000, and no multiple family situation exists. Maintenance is now determined by taking 30 percent of the payor’s gross income minus 20 percent of the payees’s gross income. The resulting figure is the maintenance amount. However, when the maintenance is added to the payee’s gross income, the statute also sets forth that the resulting number cannot be greater than 40 percent of the parties’ combined gross incomes.

Also new with the passing of the statute is the process for determining the duration of maintenance. There is now a specific calculation which depends on the length of the marriage. The following table shows how the duration of maintenance is calculated:

Length of Marriage Length of Maintenance
0-5 Years Length of Marriage x (.20)
5-10 Years Length of Marriage x (.40)
10-15 Years Length of Marriage x (.60)
15-20 Years Length of Marriage x (.80)
20+ Years Permanent or Equal to Length of Marriage

Under the statute, if the duration of a marriage is fewer than 10 years the court may make the maintenance award permanently terminate upon the completion of the initial payments. The implication is that in all other cases, the award may be, at the discretion of the court, extended after the initial period has expired.

The law also now defines how to calculate gross income for maintenance, and states that income figures for maintenance purposes will be the same as income for child support purposes. In addition, a change was made in how to calculate net income for child support purposes as well. Now, the maintenance or alimony paid is deducted from the payor’s net income for child support purposes.

In conclusion, this new statute will result in significant differences in how maintenance is awarded in some cases in the very near future. It is important to discuss with your attorney how this new statute may affect you in your divorce.

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