Alimony is court-ordered payment from one former spouse to the other after divorce. In general, alimony is paid out in a lump sum, regular payments without a fixed end date (permanent), or according to an interim arrangement, known as temporary or rehabilitative. Spousal maintenance is typically awarded to a spouse that has been financially supported during the marriage.
Illinois is one of the first states to implement strict numerical guidelines for alimony regarding marriages with a combined gross income of under $250,000. Under the new act, maintenance awards should equal 30 percent of the payor’s gross income minus 20 percent of the payee’s gross income, not to exceed 40 percent of the parties combined gross income when added to the payee’s gross. Calculation of duration of alimony support is tied to the length of marriage. An example of the calculation process:
Spouse 1 earns $100,000 in gross income annually. Spouse 2 grosses $50,000. Spouse 1 is ordered to pay Spouse 2 maintenance.
Step 1: Calculate 40% of the spouses’ combined gross income to determine the absolute cap on spousal maintenance
$100,000 + $50,000 = $150,000
$150,000 x .4 = $60,000
This sets the maximum amount Spouse 2 can gross in income (including alimony) to no more than $60,000 annually.
Step 2: Now calculate 30% of Spouse 1’s Gross Income and 20% of Spouse 2’s Income
Spouse 1: $100,000 x .3 = $30,000
Spouse 2: $50,000 x .2 = $10,000
Step 3: Subtract 20% of Spouse 2’s Gross Income from 30% of Spouse 1’s Income
$30,000 – $10,000 = $20,000
Step 4: Combine Spouse 2’s Income with the $20,000 (Step 3 Amount) to determine Spouse 2’s projected gross annual Income (including the alimony)
$50,000 + $20,000 = $70,000
Step 5: Since Spouse 2’s Combined Income exceeds the cap amount of 60,000 calculated in step 1, only $10,000 would be awarded in spousal support annually.
Step 6: Apply length of marriage preset factor to determine length of time support may be awarded.
Length of Marriage
1 -5 Years = .2
5 – 10 Years = .4
10 – 15 Years = .6
15 – 20 Years = .8
For example, if Spouse 1 and Spouse 2 were married for 10 years, Spouse 2 would be entitled to support for 6 years, or [10 x .6]. If a marriage lasted for more than 20 years and you are among those seeking a gray divorce, the payee spouse may be entitled to either permanent maintenance or maintenance for the amount of time equal to the length of the marriage, which will be up to the judge.
Although the law attempts to lend consistency to the process of awarding spousal maintenance, some feel that the judge’s discretion has been taken out of the formula. Illinois law lacks deviation factors, such as a spouse’s health, education, or caretaking duties, that could lead to different results based on a family’s unique situation. Although the law allows for deviation from the guidelines upon a written decision by the judge, it is unclear how often a judge will exercise the option given crushing caseloads and the legislative support for the streamlined process. Seeking experienced legal help to acheive a favorable outcome is key.
If you have questions regarding Illinois spousal maintenance or other questions regarding divorce, child custody and support or property division, contact the Law Offices of Ronald L. Bell, PC for help.