If you weren’t aware, there are spousal maintenance changes for 2018 that our legal team at O’Dekirk, Allred & Associates in Joliet want to share with you. Changes to alimony (known as maintenance in Illinois law) became effective on January 1, 2018, so it may be important to know about these changes if you are in the middle of divorce proceedings, plan to file for divorce this year, or are looking to have an existing spousal maintenance decision adjusted.
Definition of Maintenance
In Illinois, maintenance is the court ordered financial support that is paid by one spouse to another as a part of their divorce settlement. Under the new guidelines the term “permanent maintenance” is now “indefinite maintenance” which is used to describe maintenance payments that do not have a specific expiration date. Unless the divorce specifies otherwise, indefinite maintenance continues until one spouse dies, the receiving spouse remarries, or the receiving spouse cohabitates on a continual conjugal basis.
If there is a substantial change in circumstances, spousal maintenance may be modified. However, there are divorce settlements that have explicitly non-modifiable maintenance and such maintenance cannot be adjusted no matter the circumstances.
Raised Application Amount
Under the original 2015 law, statutory maintenance guidelines were applied when the gross combined income per year was less than $250,000. This was a guideline and the Illinois courts took other circumstances into consideration, such as the total length of the marriage, ages of the spouses, and differences in assets and income. Other factors were also considered, including physical and emotional problems. These will all continue under the 2018 changes.
According to the spousal maintenance changes for 2018, the threshold for the maintenance guidelines will be raised to a combined gross income per year of $500,000 or less. This means that more couples will be subject to the statutory guidelines. For those couples whose combined income exceeds this amount, they are not necessarily subject to the guidelines, though they could still be used. Additionally, the courts can still deviate from the guidelines for those couples who should be subject, but the court will need to provide a solid rationale for doing so.
If you need the spousal maintenance changes for 2018 explained further, please contact us here at O’Dekirk, Allred, and Associates in Joliet. We can help you with your divorce and help you determine how these new rules will affect you.
Changes to Duration of Payments
The most substantial change in the Illinois law is with respect to the calculation of the duration of the maintenance payments. In 2015, the duration of payments was decided using a basic calculation. To determine the length of the payments, the following formulas were used:
- If the marriage lasted 5 years or less, the length of the marriage was multiplied by .20. So, if you were married for 4 years, (4 times .2 equals .8 years) the length of the payments would equal 9.6 months.
- 5-9 years would be multiplied by .40
- 10-14 years would be multiplied by .60
- 15-19 years would be multiplied by .80
- Marriages that lasted 20 years or more will have a maintenance length that is equal to the marriage or the maintenance will be permanent.
Under the spousal maintenance changes for 2018, the length of time will usually be less than it was under the old law. People married less than 5 years are subject to the same percentage as are those who happen to divorce at the end of the cutoff of the previous benchmarks (years 9, 14, and 19). Those people who stayed married for 20 years or more are also subject to the same rule as before though the wording used is different. Everyone else will find that the duration of their payments will be less than it would have been under the old law. Under the new law, the duration is calculated using the following breakdown:
- Marriages that lasted less than 5 years are multiplied by .20
- Marriages that lasted 5 years are multiplied by .24
- Marriages that lasted 6 years are multiplied by .28
- Marriages that lasted 7 years are multiplied by .32
- Marriages that lasted 8 years are multiplied by .36
- Marriages that lasted 9 years are multiplied by .40
- Marriages that lasted 10 years are multiplied by .44
- Marriages that lasted 11 years are multiplied by .48
- Marriages that lasted 12 years are multiplied by .52
- Marriages that lasted 13 years are multiplied by .56
- Marriages that lasted 14 years are multiplied by .60
- Marriages that lasted 15 years are multiplied by .64
- Marriages that lasted 16 years are multiplied by .68
- Marriages that lasted 17 years are multiplied by .72
- Marriages that lasted 18 years are multiplied by .76
- Marriages that lasted 19 years are multiplied by .80
- Marriages that lasted 20 years or more, the maintenance will be as long as the length of the duration of the marriage or it will be indefinite
The spousal maintenance changes for 2018 does not mean that couples that are already divorced can use the new rules to renegotiate the length of their existing maintenance. There must be a substantial change in circumstances for maintenance to be modified or terminated.
Some elements of the Illinois law are unchanged. It is still the case that all spouses are not entitled to maintenance. One spouse must have a demonstrated need and the other must have an ability to pay. Additionally, Illinois is still gender-neutral when it comes to awarding maintenance. Husbands can be awarded maintenance much like wives can.
The determination of the spousal maintenance amount is still made using the same formula and takes into consideration the economic lifestyle of the couple. Additionally, if a spouse waives maintenance, the waiver is still forever binding.
If you may be affected by the spousal maintenance changes for 2018 and need a lawyer for your divorce case, contact us here at O’Dekirk, Allred, and Associates in Joliet for your free consultation. We can discuss everything with you and help determine how these new changes may change the maintenance outcomes of your divorce.
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