Alimony Laws in Illinois

Alimony is a difficult and confusing issue for all divorces. The current guidelines for judges to follow in order to decide and calculate alimony are ambiguous and uncertain. Divorcing spouses have little information to go on to guess what alimony will be. However, a new law that will go into effect in January 2015 will make alimony easier to calculate and much clearer.

Current Law

Under the previous Illinois Law, the court would look at several specifics, such as:

  1. Each party’s income and property, including property allocated to the party during the divorce;
  2. What each party needs;
  3. Earning capacity of each party;
  4. Impairment to earning capacity due to the marriage needs, such as delaying employment or education for the parties’ children;
  5. Time and ability of each party to obtain education or training;
  6. Standard of living during marriage;
  7. Length of marriage;
  8. Age and physical and emotional conditions of the parties;
  9. Tax consequences of the divorce;
  10. Pre-nuptial agreement terms; and
  11. Any other factors the court wishes to consider.

As you can see, by looking at these factors, it was not always clear whether alimony would be awarded, and, if alimony was awarded, in what amount. Divorcing couples could pay thousands of dollars a year to attorneys arguing over alimony. The new law aims to make this easier.

 New Law

The Governor of Illinois has signed a new law that will make calculating alimony easier; in fact, easy enough for a couple or their attorneys to complete without the court. This will save divorcing couples time and money in completing their divorces. Additionally, it will give the court a more specific guideline if the court decides to order support.

The new calculation is made by taking 30 percent of the paying spouse’s gross income minus 20 percent of the receiving spouse’s gross income. However, the alimony amount plus the gross income of the receiving party cannot exceed 40 percent of the combined gross income of the parties. Additionally, this calculation only applies to parties whose gross income is lower than $250,000. Lastly, the court still has the ability to deviate from guidelines in extraordinary cases.

The law also gives guidelines on how long the payer spouse will have to pay support. The calculation for paying support is the number of years married multiplied by the applicable factors (see below). The marriage length and the corresponding factors are shown below:

  • For marriages lasting zero to five years – 20 percent;
  • For marriages lasting six to 10 years – 40 percent;
  • For marriages lasting 11 to 15 years – 60 percent;
  • For marriages lasting 16 to 20 years – 80 percent; and
  • For marriages lasting more than 20 years, the court has the ability to award permanent alimony.

For example, if spouses are married for five years, alimony could be ordered for 20 percent of that time, or one year. If spouses are married for 20 years, alimony could be ordered for 80 percent of that time, or 16 years. The new law will go into effect at the beginning of 2015.

Do You Need Help with Your Divorce?

However, the new law has not yet gone into effect. Therefore, if you are currently going through a divorce and alimony is an issue, you may need to consult with an attorney. Our experienced Illinois family law attorneys can answer any questions you may have regarding alimony or any divorce issues. Please contact us today to schedule a consultation.