How is Spousal Support Decided?

Spousal maintenance, also referred to as alimony, is money that one spouse must pay to a dependent spouse following a divorce. The purpose of this money is to help that spouse to maintain the standard of living that he or she enjoyed during the marriage. Traditionally, family courts in Illinois have had broad discretion in making these awards. This changed with the passage of Senate Bill 3231, which took effect in January 2015. With this relatively new legislation, courts are now required to follow “maintenance” guidelines when awarding spousal support.

What Factors Can the Court Consider?

The courts still have very broad discretion in what factors they can consider in awarding spousal support, including:

  1. The income, property, and debt of each spouse, including both marital and separate property.
  2. The needs of each spouse.
  3. The earning capacity of each spouse.
  4. The career and educational sacrifices that a dependent spouse made due to the marriage and how that impacted that person’s earning potential.
  5. Any impairment to the earning capacity of the spouse who is being asked for support.
  6. The amount of time it will take the dependent spouse to acquire the necessary training and education to resume their career.
  7. The couple’s standard of living during the marriage.
  8. The duration of the marriage.
  9. The age, health, skills, occupation, employability and estate of the spouses.
  10. All sources of the couple’s public and private income, including disability and retirement income.
  11. The tax consequences of the property division on each spouse’s economic circumstances.
  12. The contributions the dependent spouse made to the other spouse’s education, career, or license.
  13. Any agreement that the spouses have reached.
  14. Any other factor that is “just and equitable.”

How is the Support Calculated?

The court is required to apply the new guidelines when the following two conditions are met: (1) the combined gross income of the family is under $250,000; and (2) the spouse is not currently obligated to pay alimony or child support from a previous relationship.

If these criteria are met, the court must take the paying spouse’s gross income and take thirty percent of that amount. Then the court will subtract from that amount twenty percent of the dependent spouse’s income. The sum will be the paying spouse’s annual alimony obligation. However, this amount may not exceed forty percent of the gross combined income of the spouses.

Further, the duration of spousal maintenance is also dictated by statute. The duration increases based on the length of the marriage. For marriages less than five years, the alimony duration is calculated by multiplying .2 by the length of the marriage. From there, the multiple is .4 for five to ten years of marriage; .6 for ten to fifteen years of marriage; .8 for fifteen to twenty years; and full length for marriages longer than twenty years.

Call an Experienced Family Attorney

Separations and divorces can be complex and highly contested. It is incredibly important to hire an attorney who knows the law and who takes pride in getting things right the first time. If you are separating or divorcing, call the Law Offices of Robert S. Thomas. I will provide you with thoughtful, no-nonsense legal representation and fight for your rights. Contact our office at 847-392-5893 to schedule an initial consultation or visit our website today.

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