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Illinois Law Creates Spousal Maintenance Formula

Originally posted September 1, 2014

On August 15, 2014, Illinois Governor Quinn signed into law Senate Bill 3231 as Public Act 98-0961 creating a formula for the presumed amount and length of spousal maintenance (alimony) in most cases, effective January 1, 2015. Prior to this formula, judges had broad discretion whether to award a spouse maintenance, the amount of support, and the length of time that the payments would be required.

The presumed amount of spousal maintenance in cases where the combined annual gross incomes (not net income after taxes, insurance, and other expenses) of the soon to be ex-spouses is less than $250,000.00 will be calculated by taking 30% of the paying spouse’s gross income minus 20% of the receiving spouse’s gross income, with the receiving spouse’s combined gross income and spousal support limited to 40% of the combined gross incomes. Most funds received by a party are included as income, not just regular wages. Simple enough? Perhaps some examples will more clearly explain this new formula.

If the paying spouse’s monthly gross income is $10,000 and the receiving spouse’s monthly gross income is $2,500, the 30% ($3,000) minus the 20% ($500) formula results in $2,500 per month in presumed spousal maintenance. 40% of the $12,500 in combined gross incomes is $5,000, and the combined gross income and support of the receiving spouse would be $5,000, so the 40% total gross income cap would not apply.

If the paying spouse’s monthly gross income is $5,000 and the receiving spouse’s monthly gross income is $2,500, the 30% ($1,500) minus the 20% ($500) formula above results in $1,000 per month in presumed spousal maintenance. However, the cap of 40% of $7,500 in combined gross incomes is $3,000, so the presumed spousal maintenance amount would be reduced to $500 per month in order to bring the receiving spouse’s total gross income to the $3,000 per month cap.

As to the presumed duration of payment, the new law provides a sliding scale based upon years of marriage. For a marriage of 5 years of less, the presumed payment period is 20% of the marriage period, 5 to 10 years is 40% of the marriage period, 10-15 years is 60% of the marriage period, 15-20 years is 80% of the marriage period, and over 20 years is 100% of the marriage period.

These amounts and periods of payments are not locked in and the receiving spouse may petition for an increase in amount or length of payment at any time prior to the end of the payment period. However, for a marriage of less than 10 years, the judge has discretion to order that the maintenance cannot be extended beyond the original period.

The law provides that courts may determine that different amounts or lengths of payments may be warranted, and the formulas do not apply if the combined incomes exceed $250,000, however many cases will fall within these formulas.

While a valid pre-marital agreement may modify or preclude spousal maintenance, the Illinois pre-marital agreement statute provides that if the premarital agreement causes undue hardship in light of circumstances not reasonably foreseeable at the time of the execution of the agreement, a court may still impose spousal maintenance.

If you have a spousal support issue or questions on the Illinois law on spousal support or pre-marital agreements, please email or call our office to schedule a no charge office consultation to discuss your concerns.

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