Are you thinking about filing for divorce this year? If so, you should know that there are changes coming to Illinois spousal maintenance law. The changes will take effect on June 1, 2018, and they will have a major impact on many divorce cases in which the court determines that spousal maintenance is appropriate. To be clear, under the new law, spouses who are seeking maintenance will still need to request maintenance under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/501). In addition, nothing will change when it comes to the order in which the court awards spousal maintenance—the court will continue to determine whether spousal maintenance is even appropriate in any given case before moving on to the question of the amount and duration of the spousal support.
However, the court will be using new guidelines for determining the amount and the duration of the spousal maintenance award. While the changes to the law may not have impact on certain parties, those revisions to the law certainly will affect many Chicago residents. The changes to the law are occurring under Public Act 100-0520, and we will tell you more about the specific changes that could affect your case.
History of Illinois Spousal Maintenance Guidelines
One of the first and most significant changes to the law concerns the applicability of the spousal maintenance guidelines. You may know that Illinois changed its spousal maintenance laws in response to a need to streamline the process. Up until 2014, Illinois did not have a formula for determining the amount or duration of any given spousal maintenance award. Instead, each family’s situation was handled on a case-by-case basis, leaving room for discrepancies in support orders between couples with similar situations.
In 2014, Public Act 98-0961 aimed to change the process. Under the legislation, which later became law, Illinois lawmakers developed a formula for courts to use in deciding the amount and duration of a support order. The amount of the award was determined by taking 30 percent of the payor spouse’s income and subtracting 20 percent of the receiving spouse’s income. The amount remaining would equal the total award. Then, to determine the duration of the award, the court would multiply the number of years of marriage by a certain figure (outlined in a table), and that amount would equal the duration of the award.
Yet there were a handful of problems with the guidelines in which these formulas and tables were outlined. First, the formula for determining the amount of the spousal maintenance award only applied to couples with a combined gross income of under $250,000. Second, the duration equation had an odd jump between couples married for under five years and those married for five years or more: if a couple was married for less than five years, the duration would equal the number of years of marriage times .20, and if the couple was married for five years, the duration would equal the number of years of marriage times .40. The multiplying number only increased by tenths for each additional year of marriage afterward.
Spousal Maintenance Guidelines: Key Changes to the Law
Starting on June 1, 2018, there will be a couple of key changes to the law taking effect to address the issues we mentioned above, including:
- Spousal maintenance guidelines now will apply to couples earning a combined gross income of less than $500,000 per year; and
- Spousal maintenance duration will still be determined by a .20 multiplier for marriages lasting under five years, but it will go to .24 for marriages lasting five years (but not more than six), .28 for marriages lasting six years (but not more than seven) and so forth.
In addition, payor spouses will be able to count payments of temporary maintenance toward the duration of the spousal maintenance award.
Contact a Chicago Family Law Attorney
If you have questions about the changes to Illinois’s spousal maintenance law, an experienced divorce lawyers in Chicago can help. Contact Arami Law to learn more.