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New Year, New Spousal Support Guidelines in Illinois

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Effective January 1, 2015, Illinois has revamped how spousal support or what’s known legally as ‘maintenance’ is calculated both in terms of amount and length of time. I think it’s the MOST SIGNIFICANT change in the general family law realm in the 13 years that I’ve practiced law.

The new law will make it easier to get maintenance from a current/former spouse and I expect that maintenance awards will also be for longer periods of time. Here are 4 highlights from the new law:

  • How Maintenance is Calculated. When the combined income of the spouses is less than $250,000, the Court must take 30% of the paying spouse’s gross income minus (-) 20% of the receiving spouses income.
  • Length of Time Maintenance is Paid. The duration of maintenance is calculated by multiplying the length of the marriage by various fractions. 0-5 year marriage (.2), 6-10 year marriage (.4), 10-15 year marriage (.6), 15-20 year marriage (.8). For more than 20 years, the Court should order permanent maintenance or maintenance for a period equal to the length of the marriage.
  • Unallocated Maintenance Not Permitted Post-Divorce. “Unallocated Maintenance” means combining of traditional maintenance with child support to make the entire payment tax deductible. This is a useful mechanism to use tax planning to make the entire income ‘pie’ available to both spouses larger. The fact that Court’s can’t order this any longer should be a good incentive for parties to settle or agree so that they can take advantage of this great tax benefit.
  • Fixed-Term Maintenance. For marriages less than 10 years a Court now has the authority to order that maintenance be paid for a fixed period of time but then it cannot be reviewed. Prior to the new law, a Court’s maintenance award was always open to further review at the end of the payment term, meaning it could get extended.

Checkout my recent video here for more information:  How to Get Spousal Support in Illinois

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