Effective January 1, 2015: New Law Regulating Spousal Maintenance
A new public act dramatically changes how spousal maintenance (alimony) is determined for divorcing couples whose combined gross income is less than $250,000.
Presently, judges have discretion to calculate maintenance without using a statutory formula similar to the one that applies to child support awards, instead relying on the following list of factors:
- the income and property of each party, including marital property apportioned and non-marital property assigned to the party seeking maintenance;
- the needs of each party;
- the present and future earning capacity of each party;
- any impairment of the present and future earning capacity of the party seeking maintenance due to that party devoting time to domestic duties or having forgone education, training , employment, or career opportunities due to the marriage;
- the time necessary to enable the party seeking maintenance to acquire appropriate education, training, and employment, and whether that party is able to support himself or herself through appropriate employment or is the custodian of the child making it appropriate that the custodian not seek employment;
- the standard of living established during the marriage;
- the duration of the marriage;
- the age and the physical and emotional condition of both parties;
- the tax consequences of the property division upon the respective economic circumstances of the parties;
(10) contribution and services by the party seeking maintenance to the education, training , career and career potential, or license of the other spouse;
(11) any valid agreement of the parties; and
(12) any other factor that the court expressly finds to be just and equitable.
(b-5) Any maintenance obligation including any unallocated maintenance and child support obligation, or any portion of any support obligation, that becomes due and remains unpaid shall accrue simple interest as set forth in Section 505 of this Act.
(b-7) Any new or existing maintenance order including any unallocated maintenance and child support order entered by the court under this Section shall be deemed to be a series of judgments against the person obligated to pay support thereunder. Each such judgment to be in the amount of each payment or installment of support and each such judgment to be deemed entered as of the date the corresponding payment or installment becomes due under the terms of the support order, except no judgment shall arise as to any installment coming due after the termination of maintenance as provided by Section 510 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act or the provisions of any order for maintenance. Each such judgment shall have the full force, effect and attributes of any other judgment of this State, including the ability to be enforced. A lien arises by operation of law against the real and personal property of the obligor for each installment of overdue support owed by the obligor.
(c) The court may grant and enforce the payment of maintenance during the pendency of an appeal as the court shall deem reasonable and proper.
(d) No maintenance shall accrue during the period in which a party is imprisoned for failure to comply with the court’s order for the payment of such maintenance.
(e) When maintenance is to be paid through the clerk of the court in a county of 1,000,000 inhabitant or less, the order shall direct the obligor to pay to the clerk, in addition to the maintenance payments, all fees imposed by the county board under paragraph (3) of subsection (u) of Section 27.1 of the Clerks of Courts Act. Unless paid in cash or pursuant to an order for withholding, the payment of the fee shall be by a separate instrument from the support payment and shall be made to the order of the Clerk.
THE NEW LAW
Effective January 1, 2015, there will be a mathematical formula for calculating maintenance based on the gross income of the parties and the length of the marriage. This formula will eliminate a lot of the guesswork in calculating maintenance and limit the judges’ wide discretion which they presently possess. Presently, maintenance decisions vary widely from case to case, judge to judge, and county to county.
Under the new formula maintenance should equal 30% of the payor’s gross income minus 20% of the payee’s gross income but is not to exceed 40% of the parties’ combined gross income when added to the payee’s gross income.
For example: The soon to be ex-husband grosses $60,000 a year and his wife makes $30,000. 30% of $60,000 is $18,000 and 20% of $30,000 is $6,000. Subtract $6,000 from $18,000 and you get $12,000. The Husband would owe the wife $12,000 a year in maintenance. However, the maintenance award plus the payee’s gross income cannot exceed 40% of the couple’s combined gross. Together, the couple grossed $90,000 a year. 40% of the couple’s gross income is $36,000. So the wife would only receive $6,000 a year in maintenance and not $12,000.
Additionally, a separate formula will be implemented to determine the duration of the maintenance award. For a marriage that lasted under 20 years, the length of the award would be 20% of the time the couple was married. For example, 2 years of maintenance for a 10-year marriage. However, for marriages exceeding 20 years, the award could be for the duration of the marriage or permanent.