Maintenance, which is commonly known as alimony or spousal support

enforcements

Maintenance, formerly known as alimony, is a payment from one spouse to another and is a complicated area of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.  If maintenance is appropriate, there are many forms it can take, including but not limited to reviewable, permanent or non-modifiable.  Jennifer R. Ward, Esquire was selected to be on an exclusive panel in order to make a presentation on the topic of maintenance at the “Leaving a Long-Term Marriage” workshop produced by The Lilac Tree, an Evanston-based not-for-profit resource for women contemplating divorce.  Her knowledge on the topic, formal presentation and speaking engagement in this arena translates into her daily practice at Ward Family Law, LLC and benefits her clients tremendously.

The maintenance laws in Illinois are summarized as follows:

(1) The court must first decide whether maintenance is appropriate in a given case, using factors listed in the Act, such as duration of marriage, standard of living, income, needs of the parties, etc. AND (2) Maintenance is determined for divorcing couples whose combined gross income is less than $500,000.

The final maintenance award for a divorce is always broken down into two parts:

1. THE AMOUNT OF MAINTENANCE AWARDED, AND;

2. THE DURATION OF TIME THE MAINTENANCE WILL BE AWARDED

Below, we will walk you through the steps to calculating both maintenance amount and duration (estimated).

FORMULA FOR MAINTENANCE AWARD: DURATION The duration of maintenance, or how long the maintenance is awarded for, is one major factor when determining overall maintenance award.

To calculate duration, multiply the length of marriage with the corresponding multiplying factor.
(Marriage <5 Years) x (0.20)
(Marriage 5 Years) x (0.24)
(Marriage 6 Years) x (0.28)
(Marriage 7 Years) x (0.32)
(Marriage 8 Years) x (0.36)
(Marriage 9 Years) x (0.40)
(Marriage 10 Years) x (0.44)
(Marriage 11 Years) x (0.48)
(Marriage 12 Years) x (0.52)
(Marriage 13 Years) x (0.56)
(Marriage 14 Years) x (0.60)
(Marriage 15 Years) x (0.64)
(Marriage 16 Years) x (0.68)
(Marriage 17 Years) x (0.72)
(Marriage 18 Years) x (0.76)
(Marriage 19 Years) x (0.80)
(Marriage 20 or more Years) = court shall determine the duration, or order an indefinite term of maintenance

FORMULA FOR MAINTENANCE AWARD: AMOUNT The second important factor when determining overall maintenance award is the amount of maintenance owed. While the final amount will vary based on factors which are unique to each case, the following formula can help you approximate what your award should be:

(30% of the payer’s income) – (20% of the receiver’s income*)

*The receiver’s new income cannot exceed 40% of the parties’ combined income

EXAMPLES

EXAMPLE 1: TWO INCOME HOUSEHOLD

In this first example, let’s calculate maintenance for a marriage of 15 years, where both spouses earn an income. You have:
Spouse A, whose annual income is $150,000, and;
Spouse B, whose annual income is $70,000
Assuming that the court determines maintenance should be granted, the maintenance award can be calculated as follows:

CALCULATING MAINTENANCE AWARD AMOUNT:
($150,000) x (30%) = $45,000 (Spouse A)
($70,000) x (20%) = $14,000 (Spouse B)
($45,000) – ($14,000) = $31,000
According to calculations, Spouse B should be granted a maintenance award of $31,000 each year. In this case, Spouse B’s new annual income exceeds 40% of the parties’ combined annual income.
($150,000 + $70,000) x (40%) = $88,000 (40% of combined income)
($70,000 + $31,000) = $101,000 (Spouse B’s new annual income)
Taking into consideration that Spouse B’s new annual income exceeds 40% of the parties’ combined annual income, the court would likely modify the maintenance amount to adhere to the 40% rule. In this case, Spouse B would most likely be granted around $18,000 in maintenance each year.

CALCULATING MAINTENANCE AWARD DURATION:

The parties’ marriage length is 15 years, which is then multiplied by the corresponding multiplying factor of 0.64. (15 years of marriage) x (0.64) = 9.6 Years Duration

IN CONCLUSION: Spouse B should be awarded maintenance of approximately $18,000 per year, for a duration of 9.6 years.

EXAMPLE 2: SINGLE INCOME HOUSEHOLD For our second example, let’s say we have a marriage of 14 years where only one spouse earns an income. In this case, we have:
Spouse A, whose annual income is $150,000, and;
Spouse B, who does not earn an income
Assuming that the court determines maintenance should be granted, the maintenance award can be calculated as follows:

CALCULATING MAINTENANCE AWARD AMOUNT:
($150,000) x (30%) = $45,000 (Spouse A)
($0.00) x (20%) = $0.00 (Spouse B)
($45,000) – ($0.00) = $45,000
According to the calculations, Spouse B’s should be granted a maintenance award of $45,000 each year. In this case, Spouse B’s new income does not exceed 40% of the parties’ combined income.

CALCULATING MAINTENANCE AWARD DURATION:

The parties’ marriage length is 14 years, which is then multiplied by the corresponding multiplying factor of 0.60. (14 Years of Marriage) x (0.64) = 8.96 Years Duration

IN CONCLUSION: Spouse B should be awarded maintenance of approximately $45,000 per year, for a duration of 8.96 years.

In summary, the Act also makes the following changes:

Judges may not order unallocated maintenance unless the parties agree to it;

Judges are authorized to permanently bar maintenance for marriages of 10 years or fewer; and

Judges must subtract maintenance payments from the payor’s income for purposes of calculating child support.

An award ordered by a court may be reasonably secured, in whole or in part, by life insurance on the payor’s life on terms as to which the parties agree, or, if they do not agree, on such terms determined by the court, subject to the following:

(1) With respect to existing life insurance, provided the court is apprised through evidence, stipulation, or otherwise as to level of death benefits, premium, and other relevant data and makes findings relative thereto, the court may allocate death benefits, the right to assign death benefits, or the obligation for future premium payments between the parties as it deems just.

(2) To the extent the court determines that its award should be secured, in whole or in part, by new life insurance on the payor’s life, the court may only order: (i) that the payor cooperate on all appropriate steps for the payee to obtain such new life insurance; and (ii) that the payee, at his or her sole option and expense, may obtain such new life insurance on the payor’s life up to a maximum level of death benefit coverage, or descending death benefit coverage, as is set by the court, such level not to exceed a reasonable amount in light of the court’s award, with the payee or the payee’s designee being the beneficiary of such life insurance.

In determining the maximum level of death benefit coverage, the court shall take into account all relevant facts and circumstances, including the impact on access to life insurance by the maintenance payor.

Please review the Act with Jennifer R. Ward or Tania K. Harvey of Ward Family Law, LLC for other details that may be relevant to your case in determining a maintenance award.

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