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Key facts about Illinois' spousal maintenance

As divorcing parties separate, finances are often a high-priority item in the settlement. Certain instances may warrant a spousal maintenance payment arrangement.

It is important that both maintenance providers and recipients understand the parameters of this payment. There are a few key facts to understand about Illinois' spousal maintenance requirements.

Income qualification

The purpose of spousal maintenance is to provide financial help to parties as they transition out of their marriage. It is not meant to support people in the long term, and there are some individuals who do not qualify for maintenance. In cases where parties do not qualify, the court may bar such requests. On the other hand, when parties do qualify, the court may determine whether the statutory guidelines determine the maintenance. Whereas in the past the law set the threshhold at $250,000, the new law extends the threshhold to $500,000 for the guideline to apply. 

Calculation

As of January 2019, the statutory guidelines utilize 33.3% of the payor's net annual income and 25% of the payee's net annual income to determine maintenance payment amounts. This is quite different from previous years when the courts used 30% of the payor's gross annual income and 20% of the payee's gross annual income. Another change is that the payor may no longer claim spousal maintenance as a tax deduction, and payees may not claim it as income.

Payment duration

The length of a marriage before divorce plays a large role in determining the duration of spousal maintenance payments. For marriages that lasted between five to 19 years, the spousal maintenance amount is a set percentage according to the number of years, starting at 20% for five years. For marriages 20 years or longer, the court may award support for as many years as the marriage or an indefinite length of time.

Understanding these key aspects of the maintenance laws may aid parties in figuring out how maintenance applies in their situations. It may also be beneficial to consult with a professional and to create a budget according to the new living wage expectations.

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