Everyone is familiar now with child support guidelines. Most people who are looking for child support from the other parent already know that they are entitled to a certain percentage of the other’s income, depending on how many children they have. Illinois has now passed the same type of idea for maintenance.
Maintenance, which used to be called alimony, has been tricky to predict. We have factors that we apply to your set of facts in a case, and then hope the judge will go with our theory of the case. It can be frustrating though to have nearly the same exact kind of facts before one judge and get maintenance, and take the same set of facts before another judge and get nothing. The guidelines will help lawyers predict what couples can expect in the area of maintenance, and hopefully lower the extensive litigation that goes one when fighting about it.
First, the new law doesn’t take effect until January 1, 2015. Second, it is not going to apply to every family, just those families making less than $250,000 a year.
The judge first has to be convinced that you should receive maintenance. It’s not automatic. So the same factors will still be analyzed to determine if you should even get it or not. Once the judge indicates that you are a maintenance candidate however, then the attorneys can implement the formula and come up with the appropriate award for you.
To utilize the guidelines, you will first look at the obligor’s (the person paying) gross income. It is calculated by taking 30 percent of the obligor’s gross income, minus 20 percent of the payee’s gross income. This amount cannot result in the payee receiving a total that is in excess of 40 percent of the combined gross income of the parties after the maintenance is added to the gross income of the payee.
Next, a calculation needs to be made to figure out how long someone will be allowed to receive maintenance. The duration is calculated by multiplying the length of the marriage by whichever of the following factors applies: 0-5 years (.20); 5-10 years (.40); 10-15 years (.60); or 15-20 years (.80). For a marriage of 20 or more years, the court can either order permanent maintenance or maintenance for a period equal to the length of the marriage.