Reeder & Brown, P.C.



Joliet Spousal Support Lawyers Protecting Your Rights and Future

Spousal support, also known as maintenance or alimony, is generally intended to ease the financial transition from married life to single life for a stay-at-home or lesser-earning spouse. It may also be used to offset an imbalance in the division of marital property.

No matter how long you have been married, Illinois divorce law (750 ILCS 5/504) does not guarantee spousal support. Rather, the law provides a long list of factors that can be used to argue for or against an award of maintenance, including the standard of living established during the marriage and the realistic present and future earning capacity of each party. The law also defines guidelines for the amount and duration of post-divorce spousal support.

Spouses are free to negotiate their own agreements that will fairly enable each spouse to make a smooth transition to divorced life. This could include more or less maintenance than the statutory guidelines offer. It could also involve a lump-sum payment rather than ongoing monthly payments.

At the law offices of Reeder & Brown, P.C., we understand both sides of the spousal support situation. On one hand, you may not want to be tied financially to your ex after completing your divorce. On the other hand, a spouse who has been devoted to homemaking and childcare for the benefit of the family rather than paid employment deserves a reasonable amount of time to become financially self-sufficient. Whatever your situation, you can rely on our attorneys to advocate strongly for your legal rights and financial best interests.

The attorneys of Reeder & Brown, P.C. have over 30 years of combined experience, and we have helped numerous clients successfully negotiate divorce settlements. One key to our success is our ability to carefully analyze your current standard of living, your family's overall circumstances, and both parties' financial statements. Our ability to weigh and argue all of the relevant factors is key to ensuring that you receive the best possible divorce settlement.

Illinois Law on Duration of Maintenance

Illinois law bases the duration of maintenance on the length of the marriage.

Length of maintenance: For a marriage of less than five years, the duration of maintenance will be determined by multiplying the length of the marriage by a factor of .20. Thus, a marriage of four years would result in maintenance of 0.8 years (about 10 months).

For marriages of more than five years, the factor rises by .04 each year: .24 for a marriage of at least five but less than six years, .28 for at least six but less than seven years, and so on. The maximum factor is .80 for a marriage of at least 19 but less than 20 years. Thus, if you had been married 19 years, you would qualify for about 15 years of maintenance.

For a marriage of 20 or more years, the court may order maintenance for a period equal to the length of the marriage or for an indefinite term.

The duration of maintenance may be specified as:

  • Fixed-term – Maintenance is barred after the fixed termination date.
  • Reviewable – The court will review the situation of both parties at the end of the specified term of maintenance and decide whether to continue, modify, or terminate maintenance.
  • Indefinite – No termination or review date is defined. Maintenance will continue until modified or terminated by court order.

Termination of maintenance: The obligation to pay maintenance ends when (1) either party dies, (2) the payee remarries, or (3) the payee cohabits with an intimate partner.

Illinois Law on Amount of Maintenance Payments, aka Spousal Support

Illinois law provides specific guidelines for calculating maintenance payments.

Maintenance amount = (.333 x Payor's Net Annual Income) – (.25 x Payee's Net Annual Income).

Example: If one spouse earns $90,000, and the other spouse earns $40,000, the following calculation will be used: (.333 x $90,000) – (.25 x $40,000) = $30,000- $10,000 = $20,000 maintenance per year.

Constraint 1: The payee's total income including maintenance cannot exceed 40% of the combined net income of the parties. In the example above, the couple's combined net income is $130,000, and the lower-earning spouse may not end up with more than (.40 x $130,000) = $52,000. So, instead of being eligible for $20,000 in maintenance, the spouse with the $40,000 income would be limited to receiving a maximum of $12,000 in maintenance. This would leave the first spouse with ($90,000 - $12,000) = $78,000 in income and the second spouse with $52,000.

Constraint 2: The combined total of child support and maintenance that one spouse pays to the other may not exceed 50% of the payor's net income. If it does, the court may set non-guideline maintenance, non-guideline child support, or both.

Negotiating Non-Guideline Maintenance and Modifications

There are many cases in which the calculation of maintenance becomes more complicated or when a request to modify the original order may be appropriate, such as when either spouse:

  • Has widely varying income due to bonuses and commissions.
  • Receives non-cash compensation, such as company stock shares or options.
  • Is on a career path that could mean their future earning capacity will be substantially higher than it is at present.
  • Needs maintenance for a longer period of time than the guideline duration allows. For example, if a couple married for four years has a two-year-old and a new baby at the time of divorce, the mother may need more than the guideline of 10 months of maintenance. As another example, if a spouse has been out of the workforce for a long time, they may need to go back to school for a year or more in order to qualify for gainful employment, and they may require financial support for educational costs as well as living expenses.
  • Is near retirement age. For example, if a couple was married for 20 years, and the payor is now 60 years old, the guideline of 20 years of maintenance would require them to pay maintenance until age 80. If it would not be feasible to do so, the amount of their payments may be reduced, maintenance may be awarded for a shorter period, or a spousal support order may be reviewable after a certain period of time.
  • Wants the maintenance obligation to be secured by life insurance.

The attorneys of Reeder & Brown, P.C. have the depth of experience to ensure that your spousal support agreement takes all relevant factors into account. We will also assist you in modifying your maintenance order if either party has experienced a substantial change in circumstances.

Contact Our Joliet Spousal Support Lawyers

At Reeder & Brown, P.C., we provide legal help to clients in communities throughout Will County, including Plainfield, Bolingbrook, Shorewood, Lockport, Crest Hill, and Joliet. To set up a free consultation, contact us our office at 815-885-5980.

Back to Top