Maintenance Details

Maintenance (Spousal Support) in Illinois

If you are contemplating a divorce or are currently in the process of divorcing, the question of how much money you will have available to meet monthly living expenses at the completion of the divorce is likely one of your primary concerns. The answer is fact specific and depends on many factors, including how your property is divided and whether maintenance and child support are ordered. Maintenance (also commonly referred to as alimony or spousal support) is money paid by one spouse (the payor) to another (the payee) to assist the payee in supporting him or herself. Illinois maintenance laws are summarized below. If you have questions about your specific situation, please contact our offices to speak to an experienced Illinois maintenance lawyer.

Gender and Fault are not Relevant to Maintenance

Either spouse may request maintenance. Gender is not a relevant factor when considering whether to award maintenance. Similarly, fault and misconduct are not relevant factors. Therefore, a spouse that cheated can neither be required to pay more maintenance nor precluded from receiving maintenance.

Making an Award of Maintenance in Illinois

If an award of maintenance is sought by any party to a divorce, the court must first determine that an award of maintenance is appropriate. Section 504 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (“IMDMA”) outlines the factors a court must consider when determining whether an award of maintenance is appropriate. The factors are comprehensive and, in general terms, try to determine if there is a meaningful discrepancy in the parties’ ability to meet their living expenses and/or maintain their standard of living now and in the future. The family law court is required to consider the income, property, earning potential, employability, education, training, and health of both parties, among other things. After weighing these factors, the court will determine if maintenance is appropriate.

Determining the Amount of Maintenance in Illinois

Once a court determines that an award of maintenance is appropriate, then it can set the amount and duration of its award. For divorcing couples with a combined gross income of less than $250,000.00 and no maintenance or child support obligation from a prior relationship, Illinois law provides a formula for setting the amount of maintenance.

Illinois Maintenance Formula

The Illinois maintenance formula is relatively straightforward.  Section 504 of the IMDMA provides in relevant part that maintenance:
shall be calculated by taking 30% of the payor’s gross income minus 20% of the payee’s gross income. The amount calculated as maintenance, however, when added to the gross income of the payee, may not result in the payee receiving an amount that is in excess of 40% of the combined gross income of the parties.

Maintenance = (30% of Payor’s Gross Income) – (20% of Payee’s Gross Income)

Maintenance + (Payee’s Gross Income) ≤ 40% (Payor’s Gross Income + Payee’s Gross Income)

For purposes of calculating maintenance, gross income is generally defined as all income from all sources; some forms of income may be excluded.  For a step-by-step example of the maintenance calculation see our maintenance calculation page.

Duration of a Maintenance Award

Section 504 of the IMDMA also sets the duration of a maintenance award based on the length of the marriage at the time a petition for divorce is filed.  To calculate the duration of a maintenance award, multiply the length of the marriage by the appropriate factor: for marriages five years or less (0.20); marriages more than five years, but less than ten (0.40); marriages ten years or more, but less than fifteen, (0.60); and marriages fifteen years or more but less than twenty years, (0.80).  The judge has the option of awarding permanent maintenance or maintenance equal duration to the length of the marriage for marriages lasting twenty or more years.

Deviating from the Illinois Maintenance Formula

A family law court may deviate from the guideline formula if a couple’s combined income is in excess of $250,000 or the court states a reason for deviating from the guidelines.  For example, a court might award a disproportionally greater share of the marital property to the dependent spouse in an effort to cut all future ties between the couple and consequently award less maintenance than provided for in the maintenance guidelines.

Illinois Maintenance Lawyers

If you are looking for an experienced litigator in Oak Brook, Naperville, Wheaton, or Chicago, contact us today at (630) 464-6700 and request a maintenance/alimony consultation.