Determining Spousal Maintenance in High-Net-Worth Divorces

Man meeting with his attorney to discuss his spousal maintenance
  • Oct 15 2019

High-net-worth divorces can be very complicated. The more money and property a party owns, the more difficult it can be to address property division questions and spousal support. If the parties have been married a long time and one party has substantially less income than the other party, the issues can become even more complicated. An Illinois high-net-worth divorce attorney can help you determine the best strategy to ensure that you receive or pay a fair amount of spousal support for a reasonable length of time.

Determining Whether Spousal Maintenance is Appropriate

In any divorce case, a judge must determine whether spousal support is appropriate before the amount of spousal support is calculated. Judges consider a variety of factors when evaluating whether to award spousal support. The factors are outlined in Section 504 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. The statute lists 14 factors for judges to consider, including, but not limited to:

  • The needs of each spouse;
  • Each spouse’s income;
  • Property owned by each spouse, including the division of marital assets;
  • The health and age of each spouse;
  • The realistic earning capacity of each party now and in the future;
  • The standard of living during the marriage;
  • The length of the marriage;
  • Tax consequences for each party; and,
  • Any valid agreements between the spouses.

The statute also states that judges may consider any other factor that the judge finds just and equitable.

If the judge finds that spousal maintenance is appropriate, the judge must then set the amount and length of the spousal support.

How Is Spousal Support Calculated in High-Net-Worth Divorce Cases?

Under Illinois law, a simple equation is used to calculate spousal support in most cases. Spousal support is calculated by subtracting 25 percent of the payee’s (spouse receiving support) net income from 33 1/3 percent of the payor’s (spouse paying the support) net income. Provided that the resulting amount added to the payee’s income does not exceed 40 percent of parties’ combined net income, the court typically applies the statutory equation to calculate spousal support.

However, the statutory guidelines do not apply in cases in which the parties’ gross income is over $500,000. In the event the combined gross income of the parties exceeds $500,000, the amount and duration of spousal support is at the judge’s discretion. Even though the judge has discretion in determining spousal support in high-net-worth cases, the judge’s ruling must be based on sound arguments. 

For example, the judge in your case may consider the standard of living during your marriage; the primary residence of the children; the tax consequences of spousal maintenance for each of you; and, the earning capacities of you and your spouse. After considering these factors, the judge calculates an amount of spousal support that gives you the ability to maintain the standard of living you and your children enjoyed during the marriage. 

Contact an Illinois Divorce Attorney for Help

Contact the Illinois divorce attorneys at the Goodman Law Firm to discuss your situation. Our Illinois divorce attorneys have experience handling the complex or unique financial issues that are common in high-net-worth divorces. We design a comprehensive strategy based on the facts and circumstances of your case to achieve your goals and protect your interests.

Posted in: Divorce