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Maintenance

Experienced Illinois Family Attorneys Looking Out for Your Interests in Spousal Support Matters

An award of maintenance or spousal support is frequently requested in an Illinois divorce. If the issue is contested, then whether maintenance is awarded, for how long and how much to whom, will all be decided by the family court judge based on the evidence presented and the arguments made by the spouses through their lawyers. The family law attorneys at Pluymert, MacDonald, Hargrove & Lee provide quality representation for clients who are seeking or contesting an award of maintenance or spousal support in their Illinois divorce. We gather all the necessary facts and build and present a strong case that reflects your interests in the determination of any maintenance award.

How the courts determine maintenance awards in Illinois

The judge in a divorce will first decide whether any award of maintenance should be made or not. The judge may hold a hearing to decide whether maintenance is appropriate, where the following twelve factors will all be considered:

  • The income and property of each party

  • The needs of each party

  • The present and future earning capacity of the parties

  • Whether a party forwent education or career opportunities to devote time to raising the children or managing the household

  • The time needed to get education, training or employment to become self-supporting, or whether the requesting party should not work to stay home with the kids

  • The standard of living established during the marriage

  • The length of the marriage

  • The age and health of the parties

  • The tax consequences of the property division on the parties

  • Any contribution that one spouse made to support the education, training or career of the other

  • Any valid agreement of the parties

  • Any other factor the court finds is just and equitable

Once the court determines that a maintenance award would be appropriate, the next step is to determine the amount and duration of maintenance payments. Since 2015, Illinois family courts have used a statutory formula to arrive at the amount and duration of spousal support payments. The amount of maintenance is figured by subtracting 20% of the recipient’s income from 30% of the payor’s income. The difference is the amount of support to be paid annually. One exception to this rule is if the receiving spouse’s income combined with the support payment would exceed 40% of the spouses’ combined income. In this case, the maintenance award would be reduced so that it does not exceed the 40% cap.

As if the formula for computing the amount of maintenance was not complicated enough, the courts use another complicated formula to decide how long a maintenance award should last. This formula takes into account the length of the marriage and establishes the duration of maintenance as a percentage of the marriage length. The formula works like this:

  • Marriage lasted up to five years – maintenance award for 20% of the length of the marriage

  • Marriage lasted more than five years but less than ten – maintenance award for 40% of the length of the marriage

  • Marriage lasted more than ten years but less than 15 – maintenance award for 60% of the length of the marriage

  • Marriage lasted more than 15 years but less than 20 – maintenance award for 80% of the length of the marriage

  • Marriage lasted more than 20 years – maintenance award either permanently or for an amount of time equal to the length of the marriage

If you are concerned about how much you would pay or receive as maintenance in your divorce, we can help you estimate the amount based on the above formulas.

Help is available in Illinois maintenance cases

These guidelines apply in every divorce case, except where the combined gross income of the parties is $250,000 or more, or where a party is already under an obligation to pay support from a previous marriage. The guidelines are meant to be followed in all applicable cases, but the judge has the authority to decide the guidelines are inappropriate in a particular case and make a different award. Getting advice and representation from experienced and knowledgeable family law attorneys is critical to making sure you are fairly represented in the maintenance hearing and that your needs are met.

For help with a maintenance dispute in your Chicagoland divorce, contact Pluymert, MacDonald, Hargrove & Lee at our offices in Des Plaines or Hoffman Estates.

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