Alimony, known as spousal maintenance in Illinois law, is used to help offset the financial effects of a divorce for a disadvantaged spouse. Depending upon the circumstances of your marriage, you, as the higher-earning spouse, may be required to make substantial payments to your ex-spouse which could potentially affect your own lifestyle and economic decisions. Understanding the law regarding maintenance obligations is an important part of planning for your post-divorce situation.
Is It Needed?
According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), spousal maintenance is not presumed to be necessary in every case. You and your spouse, of course, may reach an agreement regarding such payments, which will be honored by the court if the agreement is reasonable. In the absence of such an accord, however, the court will look at a number of factors to decide if alimony is appropriate. By law, these considerations include each spouse’s resources, earning potential, and needs, the length of the marriage, standard of living, contributions to one another’s career, and many others.
If the court decides that maintenance is appropriate, the IMDMA provides an income-based guideline for calculating the amount of alimony that must be paid. The statutory formula is to be used in most cases (those where the parties’ combined income is less than $250,000), but the law does provide the court with discretion to make adjustments to the requirements as needed.
Length of Maintenance Orders
Knowing how much you might pay is only part of the alimony equation. You must also know how long you will be expected to make such payments. The IMDMA includes a provision for calculating the length of a maintenance order, as well. The length is usually determined as a percentage of the duration of the marriage. The law includes a weighted, sliding scale that provides relatively longer alimony requirements for longer marriages. To find the expected length of your maintenance order, the court will multiply the length of your marriage by the appropriate percentage factor provided by law:
- .20 for a marriage of five years or less;
- .40 for a marriage of five years or more but less than ten years;
- .60 for a marriage of ten years or more but less than 15 years; and
- .80 for a marriage of 15 years or more but less than 20 years.
For a marriage of 20 years or more, an alimony order will normally be at least equal to the length of the marriage, and may be ordered as permanent.
As an example, if you sought a divorce after 14 years of marriage, you should expect to pay maintenance for 101 months, or a little under eight and half years. 14 years multiplied by .60 equals 100.8 months.
Get the Guidance You Need
Considerations for spousal maintenance, or alimony, can be very complex. Contact an experienced Kane County divorce attorney to explore your options for simplifying the process. Call 630-377-7770 for your free, confidential consultation at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C., today. Let us provide the quality representation you need during a difficult time.