Spousal support, which is known to many people as alimony, is payment made from one former spouse to the other to offset the financial burden of divorce.
While the notion of turning over a portion of their salary to their ex-spouse upsets some people, the current system of spousal support has been determined by Illinois government to be the fairest way to address personal financial inequality after divorce.
Interested in learning more about spousal support in Illinois? Read our blog post, “Senate Bill 2289 Adjusts Maintenance Calculation for Divorce in 2019.”
Illinois spousal support calculation basics
Calculating spousal support involves leveling the disparity in income between two divorcing partners. This refers to a literal financial disparity, not a perceived valuation of a person’s work. In marriage, it’s common for people to combine their finances, and often one party receives a larger salary.
Spousal support is especially important for a spouse who has worked without financial compensation, caring for the couple’s children and the family home, for example.
However, spousal support can also be relevant in divorce proceedings if one party worked part-time or was unable to work due to a disability or other life circumstances, such as caring for an ailing parent or family member.
An arrangement for spousal support isn’t one that lasts forever. Payments are made for a predetermined period of time commensurate to the length of the marriage.
Illinois spousal support scenarios
For example, if the marriage lasted for nine years, spousal support — if ordered — can be paid for four years. A marriage lasting 19 years likely will trigger an order of eight years of spousal support.
If the couple was married for 20 years or more, the family court judge will determine an appropriate term for spousal support. This could constitute permanent support or payments that continue for the same amount of time the marriage lasted.
In Illinois, spousal support automatically ends if the payee remarries, unless the divorcing parties separately agreed otherwise.
Calculating spousal support in Illinois
Determination of monthly spousal support payments ultimately rests with the family court judge, who considers a number of factors.
The judge will consider these factors:
- Length of the marriage
- Financial situations of both parties
- Each person’s future earning potential
- The standard of living that was established during the marriage
Hear from Attorney Gwendolyn J. Sterk by watching the video below as she discusses 2019 Illinois spousal support (maintenance) laws in Illinois.
How much spousal support (maintenance) will be awarded in Illinois?
Illinois spousal support equation
As the divorcing parties work to agree on a plan for spousal support, they begin with a basic equation. This offers a starting point for additional considerations by the judge.
- The equation begins with the payer of spousal support. This is the person with the greater annual income. The first figure to consider is the payer’s net income — their annual take-home pay after deductions. Determine 33% of that figure.
- The next figure to consider is the payee’s net income — the amount of annual take-home pay of the person with the lesser income. Determine 25% of that figure.
- The final equation uses these two percentages and finds the difference. That amount is the total yearly spousal support to be paid.
The Illinois spousal support equation looks like this:
(33% of the payer’s net income) – (25% of the payee’s net income) = annual support paid
• ($80,000 / 35%) – ($35,000 / 25%) = annual spousal support
• ($80,000 x .35) – ($35,000 x .25) = annual spousal support
• $28,000 – $8,750 = $19,250/annual spousal support
• $19,250 / 12 = $1,604.16/monthly spousal support
THE FINAL STEP IN THE CALCULATION IS THE RECIPIENT’S INCOME AND SPOUSAL SUPPORT CANNOT EXCEED 40% OF THE TOTAL INCOME OF BOTH PARTIES.