The Illinois Maintenance Law Changed…Again

A gavel and a bundle of cash

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act is undergoing many changes in recent years. Now, the most recent change coming is to maintenance law, which was last changed in July 2015.

HB 2537 was introduced In February 2017 and is designed to, amongst other things, change the threshold for statutory support and the duration of maintenance from the current formula (modifying 750 ILCS 5/504). Read on to find out how maintenance has worked in Illinois over the years, how it’s changing, and what you need to know for your own case.

How Maintenance in Illinois Has Worked Over the Years

Prior to July 1, 2015, both the amount and duration of maintenance were determined pursuant to a number of factors set forth in the statute. This gave the judge significant discretion in maintenance determinations. The law was later changed to create a statutory formula from which maintenance can be determined, removing the judge from the majority of the determination, but only if income was below a specified threshold.

After July 1, 2015, maintenance was calculated according to the statutory formula that is still operational now, even after the recent, January 1, 2018 changes (discussed in further detail below).

Under the statutory formula, which we also use now, maintenance used to be calculated according to the formula set forth in the statute IF, and only if, the combined gross annual income of the parties was less than $250,000. If the combined gross annual income was more than $250,000, the judge would have strayed from the formula to lessen the maintenance award. A judge would have done this to ensure the maintenance is fair and set according to the standard of living during the marriage without awarding a “windfall” (or too much) to the spouse receiving maintenance.

Both the old law prior to January 1, 2018 and the current law now determine maintenance using this formula:

(30% of the gross income of the spouse who will pay maintenance) –  (20% of the gross income of the spouse who will receive maintenance) / 12 = The amount of spousal maintenance to be paid each month.

However, the amount of maintenance could not have been more than 40% of the couple’s combined gross income. If it was, the judge will again take back some control to determine the appropriate level of maintenance to be awarded.

The length of the maintenance award was also done according to a  formula laid out by the statute:

  • For marriages lasting 0-5 years, maintenance will be paid for a duration equaling 20% of the duration of the marriage;
  • For marriages of 5-10 years, the maintenance duration will be 40% of the duration of the marriage;
  • For marriages of 10-15 years, the maintenance duration will be 60% of the duration of the marriage;
  • For marriages of 15-20 years, the maintenance duration will be 80% of the duration of the marriage.

As you’ll see in greater detail below, there are two main changes to this calculation now after the new change, effective January 1, 2018.

How Maintenance Now Works After January 1, 2018

As of January 1, 2018, there were two notable changes to Illinois divorce law: (1) the statutory threshold, and (2) the length of the maintenance obligation.

First, the statutory threshold was increased to $500,000. This means that if the combined gross annual income of the parties is less than $500,000, the court now uses the same statutory formula outlined above to determine maintenance. As such, maintenance awards are going to be larger, in many cases.

Second, the court is applying a much more granular approach to timeline calculations for support. Instead of the ranges outlined above in five-year periods, the following are now the multipliers to determine the length of the maintenance award:

  • less than 5 years (.20);
  • 5 years or more but less than 6 years (.24);
  • 6 years or more but less than 7 years (.28);
  • 7 years or more but less than 8 years (.32);
  • 8 years or more but less than 9 years (.36);
  • 9 years or more but less than 10 years (.40);
  • 10 years or more but less than 11 years (.44);
  • 11 years or more but less than 12 years (.48);
  • 12 years or more but less than 13 years (.52);
  • 13 years or more but less than 14 years (.56);
  • 14 years or more but less than 15 years (.60);
  • 15 years or more but less than 16 years (.64);
  • 16 years or more but less than 17 years (.68);
  • 17 years or more but less than 18 years (.72);
  • 18 years or more but less than 19 years (.76);
  • 19 years or more but less than 20 years (.80); and
  • for a marriage of 20 or more years, the court, in its discretion, may order maintenance for a period equal to the length of the marriage or for an indefinite term (instead of “shall order either permanent maintenance or maintenance for a period equal to the length of the marriage”).

Generally speaking, this will mean that maintenance awards, though larger, won’t be for as long as they historically would with the larger leaps in the five-year periods explained above. Additionally, because the new changes essentially do away with permanent maintenance for marriages that have lasted 20 years or longer, spouses of long-term marriages can expect long maintenance awards, but not indefinite ones.

Discuss the New Changes With Your Naperville Divorce Lawyer

If you and your spouse earn a gross annual combined income of more than $250,000 per year, the new maintenance changes are likely to affect you more than others! However, the changes to the duration of the maintenance awards are sure to affect everyone!

If you would like to discuss how the maintenance changes may affect your divorce, or any post-decree issues on your case, contact Larry at 630-470-9990 for your free, 30-minute consultation. If you prefer, you may also schedule a consultation by clicking here and we will contact you within 48 hours to set up a time to come into our office.

We look forward to speaking with you and explaining how the new changes to Illinois maintenance law will affect your case!

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