Spousal Support and Alimony are Among the Most Contested, Complicated Issues of All Divorce Law
No matter the case, spousal support and alimony are some of the most contested and complicated matters of any divorce.
In Illinois, spousal support, also known as maintenance or alimony, is a two-step process:
- A determination is made as to whether or not you are/your spouse is eligible to receive spousal support; and
- An appropriate amount of spousal support is calculated.
Although spousal support is intended to guarantee the stability and well-being of both parties following a divorce, it is often treated as a fight as to who can receive the most or pay the least.
At Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd., we offer over three decades of experience in successfully calculating and negotiating maintenance on behalf of our clients. This means whether you’re in a position to pay or receive maintenance, we have the experience essential to guarantee a favorable outcome for your case and a stable financial future.
Which Factors Most Influence Whether a Spouse Will Receive Support or Alimony?
In any marriage, there is one spouse that earns more than the other. In some instances, the disparity is minimal whereas in others, a spouse has foregone a career to care for the family or fulfill another role. For this reason, there are a number of factors that must be considered in any spousal maintenance calculation.
Some of the most influential factors in spousal maintenance calculations include:
- The income and property of each spouse.
- The needs of each spouse.
- The realistic present and future earning capacity of each spouse.
- Any potential impairment of the present and future earning capacity of the spouse seeking maintenance. This may include whether a spouse quit work to raise children or delayed education, training, employment, or career opportunities due to the marriage.
- Any potential impairment of the same nature as the above-mentioned factors of the spouse against who maintenance is sought.
- The time necessary for the spouse seeking maintenance to acquire appropriate education, training, and employment, and whether that spouse is able to support himself/herself through appropriate employment and any parental responsibility arrangements and its effect on the spouse seeking employment.
- The standard of living established during the marriage.
- The duration of the marriage.
- The age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate liabilities, and the needs of each spouse.
- All sources of public and private income, including retirement income.
- The tax consequences of property division.
- Contributions and services a spouse seeking maintenance has made to the education, training, and career potential of the other spouse.
- Any valid agreement of the parties.
How is Spousal Support Determined – Using A Support Calculator
The Court will take 30 percent of the net income of the higher earning spouse and 20 percent of the net income of the lower earning spouse. These subsequent amounts will be subtracted and the total is then divided by 12, resulting in the monthly support payment.
Let’s solidify this concept with an example: Assume one spouse earns $100,000 annually and the other spouse earns $20,000. 30 percent of $100,000 is $30,000 and 20 percent of $20,000 is $4,000. You would then subtract $4,000 from $30,000, resulting in $26,000. By dividing $26,000 by 12, you result in an approximate monthly amount of $2,166.
Of course, the above-mentioned factors will also play a role in the amount. Thus, while this equation is a helpful guideline as to what to expect in your own divorce, it isn’t set in stone.
You can find many spousal support calculators online – or if you are not sure of how to use this calculator system, we can determine this number for you.
Spousal Support is Open to Discretion, Making it Essential That You Choose a Thorough, Detail-Oriented Attorney
With all of these factors considered, it’s obvious that there is a large amount of discretion awarded to judges in deciding maintenance disputes. As such, it’s essential to partner with an attorney who will accurately and thoroughly present all relevant facts that will influence the spousal support you must pay or will receive as part of your divorce.
At Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd., we carefully calculate and weigh all relevant factors to ensure you aren’t paying more than you need to or are receiving the greatest amount possible in your unique circumstances. Through our calculated approach to maintenance matters, we guarantee you will have the financial stability essential to beginning a new life following the finalization of your divorce.
Learn More About Maintenance and the Most Likely Outcomes for Your Case by Contacting Our Law Firm
Whether you want to learn more about how maintenance will figure in your case or your spouse has filed for divorce and you need an attorney to represent your interests on maintenance-related matters and beyond, Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd. can help.
Contact us today at 630-470-9990 to discuss your needs or to set up your free, 30-minute consultation with Larry for a more in-depth conversation regarding maintenance and your divorce. If you prefer, you may also fill out our convenient online form and we will contact you to schedule your appointment.
Common Questions: Am I Entitled to Spousal Maintenance as Part of My Divorce?
A divorce will impact your life in many ways.
To some, it’s a relief and a chance to begin anew. To others, it’s an emotional ending to a period in life. But no matter how you feel about the situation, there’s something virtually all individuals most consider: The financial implications of a divorce.
After all, a divorce is expensive. But whether you’re a mother who stopped working to take care of your child(ren) or earn significantly less than your soon-to-be former spouse, maintenance can and will be part of your divorce settlement.
Does the Law Guarantee I Will Receive Maintenance?
As is the case with all matters in a divorce, there is no simple answer to this question. However, there are 13 factors set forth by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act that will affect whether the Court determines a maintenance award is warranted in your case.
These 13 factors include:
- Income and Property – This includes both marital and non-marital property.
- Financial Needs – This includes how much money both parties need each month to cover regular and necessary expenses.
- Earning Capacity – This will consider the realistic earning capacities of both spouses based on education and past work experience.
- Earning Capacity Impairment – This considers potential impairments to the earning capacity of the spouse who is seeking maintenance. These impairments may include a delay in education, training, or work to manage the household or other career opportunities that have suffered due to the marriage.
- Earning Capacity Impairment – The Court will also consider any potential impairment to the earning capacity of the spouse who will be paying maintenance.
- Time – Maintenance often doesn’t last forever. The Court will consider how much time is needed for the party seeking maintenance to receive the education or training necessary to earn their potential income (as they will need support while doing so).
- Standard of Living – This accounts for gross disparities in income. If you have enjoyed a high standard of living during your marriage but will be unemployed without an income thereafter, you are likely to receive maintenance.
- Duration of Marriage – Under new statutory calculations, longer marriages are associated with longer maintenance obligations. You’ll learn more about this in the next section of this article.
- Age, Health, & Needs – The Court must also account for age, health, and other related factors that will affect whether either spouse will be able to work and for how long.
- All Income Sources – All private and public income must be accounted for. This will include retirement and disability income as well.
- Tax Consequences – The Court will also consider the tax consequences of your property division and what this will mean economically for both parties.
- Contributions Made by One Spouse to Another – If a spouse contributed to the education, training, or career of the other, they are more likely to receive maintenance.
- Valid Agreements – If you entered into a valid agreement regarding maintenance prior to your divorce or during your marriage, it will be considered.
While these are the 13 specific factors listed in the statute, the Court will also consider any factors that are considered “just and equitable.”
Spousal Maintenance Calculator
As part of the new statutory guidelines, there is a new formula to calculate spousal maintenance in Illinois.
Here’s how it works in a simple, two-step process.
- Take 30 percent of the payor’s (i.e. the spouse paying maintenance) gross income and subtract 20 percent of the payee’s (i.e. the spouse receiving maintenance) gross income.
- Divide the amount by 12 to determine your monthly maintenance payments.
It’s worth noting that this calculation may not exceed 40 percent of the combined gross income of the parties. If it does, a deviation from this statutory calculation is necessary.
To determine the length of maintenance, there is another calculation to be made:
- Married for 5 Years or Less – Multiple the length of the marriage (in years) by .20.
- Married for More Than 5 Years But Less Than 10 – Multiple the length of the marriage by .40.
- Married for More Than 10 Years But Less Than 15 – Multiple the length of the marriage by .60.
- Married for More Than 15 Years But Less Than 20 – Multiple the length of the marriage by .80.
- Married for 20 or More Years – In long-term marriages such as this, the Court will award permanent maintenance or maintenance equal to the length of the marriage (i.e. if you were married for 25 years, you will receive maintenance for the rest of your life or for 25 years).
Of course, there are other related factors that may affect the length of maintenance. However, these basic guidelines will give you a better idea of what to expect with your case. If you have questions about spousal support and alimony – or about spousal maintenance, please contact us at anytime.
If You Have Questions About Maintenance, Our Team Can Help
At Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd., we consider you a partner in your case. As such, you’ll always be kept up-to-date and informed as to what’s going on in your case and how issues, such as spousal maintenance, work.
If you would like to learn more about spousal maintenance or would like to set up your free 30-minute consultation to meet with Larry personally to discuss your needs, contact us at 630-470-9990 or request an appointment online. We look forward to speaking with you and offering our 35 years of expertise to your benefit on issues such as spousal maintenance and beyond.