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In Your Court: New Illinois maintenance law to go into effect Jan. 1

New legislation takes effect on Jan. 1, 2015, regarding the calculation and duration of maintenance for divorcing or legally separating couples earning a gross income of $250,000 or less.

Maintenance (formerly known as alimony in the state of Illinois) is spousal support. Just as before, the judge weighs 12 statutory factors to determine whether a maintenance award is appropriate.

However, prior to Jan. 1, 2015, the judge had/has sole discretion to calculate both the maintenance award’s reasonable amount and duration. This led to discrepancies in maintenance awards from county to county, and even judge to judge.

In response thereto, the following formulas and guidelines were drafted to create uniformity in regard to Illinois maintenance awards:

Formula for maintenance award amount:

(30 percent of the payor’s gross income) – (20 percent of the receiver’s income). However, the receiver’s new income amount cannot exceed 40 percent of the parties’ combined gross income.

An example: The parties’ gross income is $150,000. Andy earns $100,000, and Betty earns $50,000. Therefore:

(30 percent of Andy’s gross income or $30,000) – (20 percent of Betty’s gross income or $10,000) = $20,000 a year in maintenance.

However, Betty would now receive $70,000, which is 46 percent of the parties’ gross income. Therefore, Betty’s award is reduced to $10,000 per year so her income is 40 percent of the parties’ gross income ($60,000).

Guidelines for maintenance duration:

To determine the maintenance award duration, multiply the length of the marriage by the following percentages:

Marriage 0-five years in length: 20 percent

Marriage five-10 years in length: 40 percent

Marriage 10-15 years in length: 60 percent

Marriage 15-20 years in length: 80 percent

Marriage 20 years in length or greater – the court shall order either permanent maintenance or the length of the marriage. 

Using our above example, if Andy and Betty were married for 10 years, then Andy would have to pay to Betty either four years or six years (due to the overlap of the guideline).

The maintenance statute can be found at 750 ILCS 5/504. 

• Anthony Scifo is a resident of Kane County and an attorney who concentrates in personal injury, family law, and probate/estate planning. His goal with this occasional column is to help educate the public regarding the court system and the law. Contact him with general legal questions at 847-224-7011 or

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