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New Maintenance Laws to Take Effect in 2019

After the new maintenance guidelines passed in 2015, the courts finally had a measurable basis to order maintenance based on both parties’ gross incomes and the number of years the parties were married. The Illinois legislature has passed changes to the 2015 version that will likely take effect January 1, 2019.

The changes to the maintenance guidelines are as follows:

1. The new law will change the income threshold from a combined income of $250,000 to $500,000. This change will allow the guidelines to apply to families with higher incomes. If the combined gross income is over $500,000, the court is not required to apply statutory guidelines and can use its discretion in determining a proper maintenance amount.

2. Maintenance durations are now shorter for some cases. The new duration guidelines are as follows:

· Less than 5 years (0.20)

· 5 years (0.24)

· 6 years (0.28)

· 7 years (0.32)

· 8 years (0.36)

· 9 years (0.4)

· 10 years (0.44)

· 11 years (0.48)

· 12 years (0.52)

· 13 years (0.56)

· 14 years (0.60)

· 15 years (0.64)

· 16 years (0.68)

· 17 years (0.72)

· 18 years (0.76)

· 19 years (0.80)

· For 20 years or more, the period of maintenance will be equal to the duration of the marriage or for an indefinite term.

3. Finally, the court will no longer use the term “permanent maintenance”. Instead, the term will be changed to “maintenance for an indefinite term”. The new law also allows the court to extend maintenance for further review, extend maintenance for a fixed non-modifiable term, extend maintenance for an indefinite term, or permanently terminate maintenance. These two changes give the courts more discretion in setting maintenance duration terms for marriages over 20 years.

These changes provide necessary clarity regarding marriages over 20 years and also some relief on the harsh durations set by the 2015 guidelines.

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