When you file for divorce in Cook County, you may be seeking spousal maintenance or you may be wondering if you will need to pay it. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) governs matters related to support in Cook County divorces. In order to be eligible to receive spousal maintenance, one of the parties involved in the divorce case must ask for support. In other words, the court does not simply decide that spousal maintenance should be considered. Once a party seeks spousal maintenance, the court first needs to decide whether spousal maintenance is appropriate. If it decides that a spousal maintenance award is in fact appropriate in the case, then it typically will use a formula to determine the amount and duration of the support.
Illinois law recently changed the formula for spousal maintenance, and it is important to understand how changes to the law could affect your case. An experienced Cook County spousal support lawyer can answer your questions today.
The very first step in any spousal maintenance case is for the court to determine whether a spousal maintenance award is appropriate. If this type of support is not appropriate, the court never gets to the question of the amount or duration of the award. The following are some of the factors the court takes into consideration in deciding whether spousal maintenance is appropriate:
As of July 2015, Illinois courts have been using a set of guidelines that include a formula for determining the amount and duration of spousal maintenance. When the guidelines first took effect in 2015, they only applied to married couples with a combined gross annual income of less than $250,000. Recognizing that the guidelines needed to apply to more divorcing couples in Illinois, the state legislature amended the law. As of January 1, 2018, the guidelines now apply to couples earning a combined gross annual income of less than $500,000.
Here is how the formula works for determining the amount of maintenance:
The duration of the award, the court multiplies the number of years married by a factor, which increases by .4 for each additional year of marriage. Here is an example:
The multiplier continues to increase by .4 for each additional year of marriage up to 20 years. When a couple has been married for 20 years or more, the court can award spousal maintenance for the same duration as the length of the marriage or for an indefinite period of time.
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