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The Value of Spousal Support after a Separation

By Leslie Fineberg on January 26, 2015

In Illinois, spousal support is known as “spousal maintenance.” It is the financial assistance that one spouse provides the other after a divorce. Depending on the financial situation of each spouse and the length of the separation process, maintenance may even begin during the divorce. How long it continues after the divorce and how much one spouse will have to pay the other depends on a number of factors.

Spouses are typically allowed to negotiate the value of spousal support. However, a judge will step in and make decisions for the spouses if the issue becomes contentious. Before January of 2015, judges in Illinois had room for a lot of discretion when determining how much support should be given, but that has changed.

Currently, there are specific guidelines for spousal support. Much like child support, the new law applies to the amount of maintenance as well as the duration. These guidelines are specifically for couples whose gross income combined is less than $250,000. Under the new law, yearly maintenance should equal 30 percent of the payer’s gross income minus 20 percent of the payee’s gross income. However, there is a limit. Maintenance cannot exceed 40 percent of the couple’s combined gross income.

The new law addresses the duration of support payments as well. Now, the duration of the maintenance is directly tied to the length of the marriage, which is multiplied by a factor. For example, spouses married for less than five years will have support payments by a factor of .20. The factor is increased as the length of the marriage increases. For couples who have been married over 20 years, the court may order permanent maintenance.

It is important to know that spousal support is not mandatory and it is not always awarded. Some couples choose to divide up property in a reasonable way that compensates for a lack of spousal support. Judge’s still have the ability to do something different from what the guidelines all for based on the facts of a specific case. Every case is different. It is best to seek the counsel of an experienced Chicago divorce lawyer who will ensure that your rights are protected every step of the way.

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