Previously, it was difficult to predict whether a court would grant an alimony request in a divorce case or how much alimony a person could expect to receive or be ordered to pay. The Illinois legislature changed that recently by instituting statutory guidelines for courts to use in determining both alimony award amounts as well as the duration of payments based on the relative incomes of the parties and the length of the marriage. it will go into effect at the start of 2015.
Courts may deviate from the new guidelines, but if they do so, they must make written findings as to why the deviation was appropriate in a given case. The guidelines are used in cases in which the combined marital income is less than $250,000. The guidelines are based in part on percentages of the respective and combined incomes of the parties.
The guidelines employ a formula in determining award amounts. When the formula is applied, the prospective payor, or person who has the higher income, will have 30 percent of his or her gross income calculated. 20 percent of the prospective payee's gross income will then be subtracted from that figure to arrive at the yearly alimony amount. However, the figure may not exceed 40 percent of the combined gross for the couple. How long the alimony order will last depends on how long the parties were married.
By passing guidelines for spousal maintenance awards, the legislature has attempted to make such orders more predictable and standardized with courts and judges throughout the state. Courts may still deviate from the guidelines if principles of equity and fairness dictate they do so, but they must document their reasoning by making written findings.
Source: Illinois State Bar Association , "Spousal maintenance guidelines become law in Illinois", Mark Mathewson , November 06, 2014