New Maintenance (Spousal Support) Law

Beginning in 2019, there will be major changes to Illinois’ maintenance (spousal support) law. Prior to these changes, there was a mathematical equation that the courts were bound to use in calculating one spouse’s maintenance obligation. The initial threshold question is whether maintenance is even appropriate given the particular facts of a case.

What was a Guideline Maintenance Case prior to 2019?

Typically, guideline maintenance is awarded if the court determines, after considering the factors as set forth in 750 ILCS 5/504, that maintenance is warranted. A few of the factors a court is to consider when awarding (or not awarding) maintenance are: 1) the income and property of each party; 2) the earning capacities of the parties; 3) the standard of living established during the marriage; 4) the length of the marriage; and 5) the age and health of the parties. Between 2015 and December 31, 2018, guideline maintenance was based on using the following formula: take 30% of the payor’s gross annual income and subtract 20% of the payee’s gross annual income in order to figure out the maintenance amount. In most situations when the combined annual income of both parties did not exceed $500,000.00, this formula was applied by judges. In other situations, where the combined annual incomes of both parties exceeds $500,000.00, then the formula did not apply and judges could do what he/she believes is fair and reasonable under the circumstances. The length or duration of a maintenance award was based on a percentage of the length of the marriage, which is the date of the marriage until one of the parties files for divorce. One of the benefits during this time period was that the payor of the maintenance was allowed to claim the payments as a deduction on his/her federal income taxes and the payee (the recipient) had to claim the payments on his/her taxes.

What is a Guideline Maintenance Case Beginning in 2019?

In 2019, the maintenance law once again underwent a major overhaul. One of the big reasons for the Illinois legislature to revise the law was based on the fact that the IRS changed its rules. Commencing in 2019, maintenance payments were no longer allowed to be claimed as a deduction on the payor’s federal taxes and the payee did not have to claim the maintenance payments. For the spouse receiving the money today, it is tantamount to finding money on the street as he/she will not have to pay a penny in taxes on this money.

Effective January 1, 2019, the Illinois maintenance statute now utilizes the following equation in order to set maintenance: take 33.3 percent of the payor’s net annual income and subtract 25 percent of the payee’s net annual income.

The duration of the maintenance awards was also modified under the new statute. Today, the duration percentages are as follows:

  • Less than 5 years = .20
  • 5 years or more but less than 6 = .24
  • 6 years or more but less than 7 = .28
  • 7 years or more but less than 8 = .32
  • 8 years or more but less than 9 = .36
  • 9 years or more but less than 10 = .40
  • 10 years or more but less than 11 = .44
  • 11 years or more but less than 12 = .48
  • 12 years or more but less than 13 = .52
  • 13 years or more but less than 14 = .56
  • 14 years or more but less than 15 = .60
  • 15 years or more but less than 16 = .64
  • 16 years or more but less than 17 = .68
  • 17 years or more but less than 18 = .72
  • 18 years or more but less than 19 = .76
  • 19 years or more but less than 20 = .80
  • 20 years or more: the court has the discretion to award maintenance for a period equal to the length of the marriage or for an indefinite period.

Do You Have Maintenance or Divorce Concerns?

If you are contemplating a divorce or are currently in a divorce, contact Dean Taradash or any of the attorneys at Taradash Given, P.C. They have the skill and experience necessary to handle any of your concerns. To get started, click here or call 312-775-1020 and ask for Dean.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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