Maintenance, sometimes referred to as alimony, is an individual’s right to claim support from their spouse. It is a gender-neutral right, and is primarily dependent upon the difference between the  respective spouse’s incomes.  Maintenance payments are typically tax deductible to the person paying it and tax-includable to the person receiving it.  It also typically terminates upon the first to occur of four events:  the death of the payor; the death of the recipient; the remarriage of the recipient; or, the commencement of  cohabitation of the recipient of maintenance with a partner, without the benefit of marriage.

Recently, the State of Illinois modified how Courts will determine when and if either spouse in a divorce is entitled to financial support from the other.

Illinois has adopted a formula whereby, if the total family income is $250,000.00 per year or less, the court will apply a formula to determine the guideline amount and length of maintenance. In general, the court is required to multiply the financially superior spouse’s gross income by 30% and then subtract 20% of the financially dependent spouse’s income to determine the amount of maintenance.  Regardless, the amount paid plus the recipient’s income cannot exceed 40% of the total income.  The duration of maintenance payments is generally a function of how long the parties have been married.

The “guideline formula” is a good starting point for many families. However, courts have broad discretion to deviate from the formula based on a variety of factors including, earning capacity, health, age, property, impairment to earning power.

If you have questions regarding spousal support, divorce, or are considering filing for divorce and would like to talk to an experienced family law attorney who can help you through the process, please call our offices to schedule your free consultation.

Ray McSteen is a family and divorce attorney with McNamara Phelan McSteen, LLC. He has practiced in Will County for over 20 years.

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