If you are in the process of filing for divorce in Chicago, you may have heard that the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) underwent a substantial overhaul relatively recently. Some of the most commonly asked questions we receive about divorce in Illinois concerns spousal maintenance (also known as alimony). How can you know if you will be awarded spousal maintenance or if you will be required to make spousal maintenance payments? And if the court does award spousal maintenance, for how long will it last, and how much will the payments total?
The latter questions—the duration and amount of spousal maintenance—are questions that have been addressed in the revisions to Illinois’s divorce laws. Prior to the IMDMA rewrite, there was no objective formula for calculating spousal maintenance awards. Now, under the current law, there are guidelines for the court to follow in situations where the two parties getting divorced have a combined gross income of less than $250,000. To better understand how the guidelines are applied, we should take a closer look at the language of the law and then look at a hypothetical example.
What does the statute say about applying a uniform formula to spousal maintenance awards when the couple earns a combined gross income of less than $250,000? Under 750 ILCS 5/504(b-1)(1), the statute explains that the amount of spousal maintenance will be calculated like this:
How about the duration of the spousal maintenance award? There is also a formula for calculating duration under the guidelines, presuming that the spouses earn a combined gross income of less than $250,000. Those calculations require the court to multiply the length of the marriage by appropriate factor listed below to determine the duration of the award:
How do these formulas work in practice? Imagine we have a couple, John and Jane, who are getting divorced in Chicago. John earns $100,000 per year and Jane earns $25,000. They have been married for 12 years. How will the court make an award of spousal maintenance?
Since the couple earns a gross income of less than $250,000, the guidelines are likely to be applied. First, the court will calculate an amount. Under the guidelines, we would take 30 percent of John’s (the payor’s) income and subtract 20 percent of Jane’s (the payee’s) income:
The award is $25,000. Since it does not exceed 40 percent of the total combined gross income, the award may be appropriate. Now, how will the court determine duration of the award?
Since John and Jane have been married for 12 years, the court will multiply 12 by .60, which equals 7.2. As such, if the court follows the guidelines, Jane will receive $25,000 for 7.2 years.
It is important to recognize that there are situations in which the court may not apply the guidelines even if the couple’s combined gross income is less than $250,000. It is important to discuss your case with a Chicago divorce lawyer before making any decisions about your situation. Contact Arami Law today.
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