Five Top Questions About Spousal Maintenance in Chicago

Attorney answering client's questions about spousal maintenance.
  • Feb 6 2020

There are many myths and misconceptions about spousal maintenance in Chicago. The best way to know that you are receiving correct information is to consult experienced Illinois divorce attorneys. Our lawyers answer many questions about spousal maintenance, including the top five spousal support questions below.

Learning About Spousal Maintenance in Chicago

1.  Is spousal maintenance the same thing as alimony?

Yes, spousal maintenance is the same thing as alimony or spousal support. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act refers to alimony as “maintenance,” but the intent remains the same. One spouse provides financial support to the other spouse after divorce. 

2.  Do all spouses earning less than the other spouse receive spousal support?

No, spousal support is not an automatic right in a divorce proceeding. Under 750 ILCS §504(a), a judge must first find that spousal maintenance is appropriate before support can be ordered. 

The statute lists 13 specific factors for a judge to consider before awarding spousal maintenance, including each spouse’s age, health, vocational skills, needs, and income. The court also considers other factors such as the length of the marriage, which parent has primary custody of minor children, any tax consequences for the parties. Additionally, a judge may consider any other factor that the judge deems just and equitable. 

3.  Is there a standard formula for spousal maintenance in Illinois?

If a judge determines that spousal maintenance is justified, the court applies the statutory formula for support payments. The statutory formula applies in cases when the couple’s combined gross income is less than $500,000 annually, and neither spouse has children from a previous relationship. 

As of January 1, 2019, the standard formula for spousal maintenance is based on the couple’s net income and the duration of the marriage. Support is calculated by taking 33.3% of the payor’s net income and subtracting 25% of the payee’s net income. The duration of the support payments is based on the length of the marriage. The amount of spousal support is capped at 40% of the couple’s combined net income.

4. Can I deduct spousal maintenance payments on my tax returns?

Spousal payments are not deductible as an expense on a payor’s tax return. There is not a credit for the payments either. The payee does not claim spousal maintenance payments as income on his or her tax return. 

5.  Can judges deviate from the statutory formula for calculating spousal maintenance? 

Yes, there are cases in which a judge can deviate from the statutory formula for support payments. In cases involving high-net-worth couples, the judges typically use the statutory factors for deciding support to determine an equitable amount for support payments. 

Also, judges may deviate from the formula in cases in which the income is below $500,000 if the judge deems that a deviation from the formula is justified. The judge must explain the reasoning used to decide that departure from the guidelines was justified in the case. 

Contact Our Illinois Divorce Attorneys for More Information 

Spousal maintenance questions are common in a divorce. Each spouse wants to ensure that he or she is being treated fairly under the law. Contact the Illinois divorce attorneys at the Goodman Law Firm to schedule a consultation today. We fight to ensure your best interests are protected throughout the divorce proceeding.

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