As a family law attorney in Wheaton Illinois, I want you to have a basic understanding of Illinois alimony laws

/ May 12, 2021/ Divorce and Money

Of course getting a divorce will change your financial situation, especially if you are a stay at home parent, a disabled spouse, or a homemaker. However, in these situations it is likely that you are entitled to spousal maintenance (which is more commonly known as alimony). As a family law attorney in Wheaton Illinois, I have worked with many clients to ensure they understand what they are entitled to under Illinois law. 

When is spousal maintenance granted?

After a divorce, each partner wants to be able to live independently and maintenance will help accomplish that goal. Maintenance (or alimony) is given to minimize negative economic impacts of a divorce. 

Spousal maintenance is awarded when a spouse is unable to support themselves without assistance. In addition, maintenance will likely be awarded if there was a pre or postnuptial agreement that specifies the spouse is entitled to such.

How much maintenance will be awarded?

If you have a combined income of less than $500,000, the court typically uses statutory calculation guidelines

The simplified formula looks like this:
Payer’s net annual income x .33 – Recipient’s net annual income x .25 = Amount of spousal maintenance/year

Here are a couple of example with real numbers, so you can better see the calculations

family law attorney in Wheaton Illinois | Tania K. Harvey

There is an exception to this formula. The party receiving maintenance cannot be awarded more than 40% of the couple’s combined net income.

Let’s see how that works with an example. 

family law attorney in Wheaton Illinois | Tania K. Harvey
  • In this situation the combined net income of the couple is $120,000
  • 40% of $120,000 is $48,000
  • If the judge stuck to the formula the total income for the recipient would be $48,330
    • That is $330 over the 40% limit
    • Therefore, spousal maintenance can only be $28,000 

Here’s another example that shows how the 40% standard affects maintenance payouts.

family law attorney in Wheaton Illinois | Tania K. Harvey
  • In this situation the combined net income of the couple is $65,000
  • 40% of $65,000 is $26,000
  • If the judge stuck to the formula the total income for the recipient would be $29,999
    • That is $3,999 over the 40% limit
    • Therefore, spousal maintenance can only be $6,000 

When the combined income of both parties exceeds $500,000, the court has discretion to deviate from the statutory guidelines. (In theory, they have this discretion if the combined income is under $500,000 too, they just typically don’t deviate from the formula in these cases.) Some of the factors they can consider are standard of living during the marriage, the age and physical and emotional health of both parties, additional sources of income, tax consequences of property division, and numerous other factors. 

I would highly recommend consulting a lawyer with experience in high net worth divorce, if your combined income exceeds $500,000. My knowledge and experience as a family law attorney in Wheaton Illinois has allowed me to successfully negotiate adequate and meaningful maintenance awards for my clients with a high net worth. Contact me today, if you are seeking an attorney qualified to handle these types of cases. 

How long will maintenance be paid?

In general, the longer you and your partner were married, the longer maintenance will be paid. Again, there is a standard formula that judges will use when determining how long maintenance lasts.

How maintenance (alimony) is calculated1982

family law attorney in Wheaton Illinois | Tania K. Harvey

Here are more specific examples.

John and Joann were married for 4.5 years. 

  • 4.5 x .20 = .9
  • The payee will provide maintenance for .9 years
  • The recipient will receive maintenance for .9 years

Brenda and Taylor were married for 15.5 years

  • 15.5 x .64 = 9.92
  • The payee will provide maintenance for 9.92 years
  • The recipient will receive maintenance for 9.92 years

There are times when maintenance can be revisited after the divorce decree has been finalized if a change in circumstances has arisen for either party. Also, if the recipient of maintenance gets married, the payments automatically end.  

As an experienced family law attorney in Wheaton Illinois, Tania K. Harvey can help you with your divorce and any alimony questions you may have

Make sure you know how divorce will affect you financially. Contact the Law Office of Tania K. Harvey today.

Having a highly qualified attorney on your side is essential when it comes to divorce, especially when there are going to be significant economic impacts for either side. If you have additional questions please contact The Law Office of Tania K. Harvey so we can discuss your divorce and anything related to that process. We are committed to making sure you have the most innovative approach to your case because that will result in smarter solutions for you and your family.