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Divorcing Couples’ Guide to Maintenance Awards in Illinois

Illinois law outlines the manner in which spousal maintenance is awarded in a divorce. Understanding the law’s requirements can help ensure that the final divorce settlement and maintenance arrangements are fair to all parties.

Maintenance Award Determined by Court

Spousal maintenance is not an automatic part of the divorce agreement. Illinois law requires the court to determine if it is appropriate to order one spouse to pay maintenance support to the other.

Maintenance Award Considerations

A maintenance award provides income for a divorced party who may not have the same earning capability as his or her former spouse. It also helps maintain the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage. To determine the need for a maintenance award, the court considers:

Income and Assets

The court reviews the current income and assets of each party as well as future earning ability. Consideration is also given to any impairment to future earnings that could impact the ability to pay the maintenance award.

Career Contributions

Personal career sacrifices that furthered the other spouse’s work opportunities factor into the award determination. Courts often hold that a spouse who benefited from the contributions of the other has an obligation to offset the contribution through the maintenance award.

Re-education and Employment Training

The spouse seeking the maintenance award must have sufficient means and time to obtain the necessary education and training to gain employment. This part of the award may be temporary or long-term, depending on training needs.

Calculating the Maintenance Award

A maintenance award can be permanent, limited to a set term, or subject to periodic review by the court. If the combined annual gross income of both parties is less than $500,000, the law provides the guidelines for calculating the award amount, using this formula:

(33 1/3 % of the payer’s net income) – (25% of the payee’s net income) = Maintenance award amount

The exception is that the award cannot exceed 40% of the payer’s net income. If the combined income of both parties exceeds $500,000, the court may go outside the guidelines and establish a reasonable maintenance award.

The Goal is Fairness

The goal of a maintenance award is to ensure that the divorce agreement is fair to all parties. The guidelines outlined here can help manage expectations and reach an equitable divorce settlement.

African spouses not talking after dispute

He helps clients resolve issues relating to family law, including divorce, parenting time and parental responsibilities, paternity, and child support. As a skilled real estate attorney as well, Scott also provides advice and legal representation to clients who are purchasing or selling residential or commercial property in Illinois. 

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