Maintenance is provided for by Section 504 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. Maintenance is what was once called alimony – payments made from the higher earning party to the lower earning party following the dissolution of marriage. The statute provides 14 factors to determine whether an award of maintenance is appropriate. Generally speaking, the law looks at the earning capacities of the parties, the standard of living during the marriage, and the length of the marriage.
Once the Court determines that maintenance is appropriate, a statutory formula is employed where the combined gross income of the parties does not exceed $250,000. The formula calculates 30% of the gross income of the higher earner, and subtracts 20% of the gross income of the lower earner. This determines the amount of maintenance due, subject to a cap of 40% of the combined gross income of the parties. This means that the spouse receiving income cannot have their own income plus maintenance exceed 40% of the gross combined income
Spouse 1 gross income – $150,000 (30%) $45,000
Spouse 2 gross income – $50,000 (20%) $10,000
Maintenance equals $35,000 in scenario, right? No, because we must apply the 40% cap. The combined gross income is $200,000, so the cap is $80,000. The gross income of the spouse receiving maintenance cannot exceed $80,000, so in this example, maintenance is $30,000 per year.
$30,000 per year seems like a lot of money to pay for maintenance, but an important question is for what period of time must this maintenance be paid? The statute provides a formula to calculate the duration of maintenance. The duration of maintenance is based upon the length of the marriage. The length of the marriage is multiplied by the corresponding percentages.
For marriages lasting:
Less than 5 years 20%
Over 5, less than 10 years 40%
Over 10, less than 15 years 60%
Over 15, less than 20 years 80%
Over 20 years 100% or permanent
The length of the marriage for the purposes of maintenance is calculated from the date of marriage to the date the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is filed. For example, the parties were married on May 10, 2007, and the Petition for Dissolution is filed on May 11, 2016. The length of the marriage is 10 years. The duration of maintenance is 60% of 10 years, six years. Same scenario, but the Petition for Dissolution is filed on May 8, 2017. The duration of maintenance is now 40% of just short of ten years. A significant difference.
Anyone paying or receiving must be aware that there are numerous events that can lead to the modification or termination of maintenance. To discuss these issues within your current divorce proceeding or if you wish to seek a modification of what you are receiving or paying, give us a call today.