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Illinois has specific requirements for determining maintenance

If your marriage is ending and you worry about how you will support yourself, you may be a candidate for alimony, which Illinois law refers to as maintenance.

While marital factors do affect whether or not the judge determines support is necessary, the amount generally depends on a formula.

Marital factors

One of the most important considerations is income. You and your spouse must make less than $250,000 annual gross income together for the standard maintenance rules to apply.

Also, neither of you can have children from another relationship, and you must show that a maintenance award is appropriate based on your situation. The following may affect whether the judge rules in favor of maintenance:

  • Property division and assets and the tax consequences
  • Age and physical and emotional health
  • Earning potential or lack of it due to decisions made during the marriage
  • Contributions of each spouse
  • Agreements such as pre- or postnuptial contracts between spouses
  • The standard of living during the marriage
  • The needs of each spouse and how long it may reasonably take to become self-sufficient

Formula

To figure out how much your maintenance award will be, identify your spouse's annual net income and your own. Then, calculate 33.3% of your spouse's income and 25% of your income, and subtract your number from your spouse's. That is the amount you will receive unless it equals more than 40% of your combined annual income. If so, the judge will lower the payment to no more than 40%.

How long you receive maintenance is another calculation. Multiply the length of the marriage times the percentage the law provides. This ranges from 20% for up to five years to 80% for at least 19 years but less than 20. If your marriage lasted for 20 years or more, the maintenance award is either the length of your marriage or will continue indefinitely.

Other considerations

If your combined income is more than $250,000 or one of you pays or receives child support for children from another relationship, then the formula does not apply. To receive maintenance in either of these situations, you would need to either negotiate with your spouse or present your argument and requested amount with your evidence of need in court.

Judges still have the ability to decide against awarding alimony in spite of the apparent need for it. However, a judge must provide his or her reasons for the decision and why it diverges from normal circumstances.

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