​Law Governing Illinois Spousal Support Payments Set to Change

Posted on in Divorce

Illinois divorce cases, Illinois spousal support, Illinois spousal support payments, Nicholas W. Richardson, Palatine divorce attorney, Palatine spousal support attorneyA new law, scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2015, will change the way Courts can award spousal support (also known as alimony or maintenance) in Illinois divorce cases.

Current Illinois Spousal Support Guidelines

The current law governing spousal support payments in Illinois divorce cases authorizes the Judge to award spousal support to either spouse after weighing a number of factors, including:

  • Duration of the marriage;
  • Income and education level of each spouse;
  • Lifestyle established during the marriage;
  • Health of each spouse; and
  • Future earning capacity of each spouse.

The current structure for awarding support does not have any percentage guidelines to help Judges determine the amount or duration of any spousal support payments. This means the amount of any award of spousal support is purely discretionary on the Judge’s part, and could be influenced by his or her personal views on spousal support or how sympathetic (or unsympathetic) he or she finds either party.

The lack of concrete, specific guidelines leaves both parties uncertain of the value or duration of any award. Additionally, if spousal support payments are the only issue preventing the parties from reaching an agreement, they have to weigh the added cost and stress of going to trial to obtain (or prevent, depending on the party) an award of support versus the possibility of winning an unknown amount.

New Illinois Spousal Support Guidelines

Seeking to take away some of that ambiguity and discretion, the new law adds percentage guidelines based on the income of each party, making it similar to how the Court awards child support.

Under the new law, if the Court determines that an award of spousal support is warranted, based on the factors contained in the current law, the amount and duration of any award is determined as follows.

Amount of Illinois Spousal Support Award

If a couple’s combined gross income is less than $250,000, and neither couple has support obligations in other cases (from previous relationships), the amount of the award is determined by calculating 30 percent of the payor’s (the party who must pay support) gross income minus 20 percent of the payee’s (the party who will receive support) gross income.

This amount, when added to the payee’s gross income, may not cause the payee to receive more than 40 percent of the couple’s combined gross income.

Duration of Illinois Spousal Support Award

The amount of time the payor must make spousal support payments is determined by multiplying the length of the marriage by the following:

  • 0-5 years: 0.20;
  • 5-10 years: 0.40;
  • 10-15 years: 0.60;
  • 15-20 years: 0.80; or
  • 20 years or greater: The Court has discretion to award either permanent support or support for an amount equal to the duration of the marriage

The new law takes away some of the ambiguity over the award of spousal support payments. If the parties cannot agree on whether one party is entitled to receive spousal support payments, the new law allows them to pre-determine the duration and amount of a spousal support award. This allows them to better weigh the costs and benefits of going to Court to seek (or deny) an award.

Palatine Spousal Support Attorney

If you are contemplating divorce, or are in the middle of a divorce, whether or not you are eligible to receive spousal support may change under the new law. Palatine spousal support attorney Nicholas W. Richardson has more than 10 years of experience successfully handling spousal support cases and serves clients in Palatine and the northwest suburbs. Contact the office today to schedule an appointment to discuss your case.

 

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