Effective January 1, 2015, Illinois enacted a new law that sets formal standards for how family courts should calculate spousal maintenance.
Online PR News – 17-March-2015 – Chicago, Illinois – Effective January 1, 2015, Illinois enacted a new law that sets formal standards for how family courts should calculate spousal maintenance. Prior to the new law, Illinois judges could order nearly any amount and duration of maintenance that they saw fit. That created a wide disparity in spousal maintenance amounts between different counties and courts.
Elliot Heidelberger, a family law attorney in Chicago, welcomes the new law. "It's much needed," he stated. "For too long, we've basically had to guess at what the maintenance amount and duration might be if the divorce went to trial. This brings some certainty into the process."
The new law implements a formula to calculate both the maintenance amount and duration. The maintenance amount is 30 percent of the payor's gross income minus 20 percent of the recipient's gross income, not to exceed 40 percent of their combined gross income.
The duration formula is based on the length of the marriage. For example, for a couple married less than five years, the maintenance would last for 20 percent of the length of the marriage. The duration amounts scale up for longer marriages. For marriages of more than 20 years, maintenance can be permanent or equal to the length of the marriage.
Mr. Heidelberger, a Chicago family law attorney, predicts that the new law will help more couples reach a settlement rather than go to trial. "Not knowing what the maintenance could be makes negotiations tough," he explained. "Parties would overestimate or underestimate what maintenance might be. Then they'd take their chances with a trial. Now, there's no guessing. Everyone knows what's at stake at trial."