5 Key Things to Know About Spousal Support
By: M. Scott Gordon
If you are getting divorced in the Chicago area, it is important to know some key things about spousal support — also known as alimony or spousal maintenance — under Illinois law. Generally speaking, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) governs most legal issues related to support. Here are five key topics every person should know about spousal support if they are planning to get divorced in Illinois.
1. Paying Spouse Pays Income Taxes on Spousal Support
Under new federal tax laws, the spouse who pays spousal support is the one who pays income taxes on the amount — as opposed to the spouse receiving the support. The opposite used to be true, with the spouse receiving the support paying taxes on it. The Illinois spousal support guidelines consider this change in the law when it provides a formula for calculating the total amount of spousal support or maintenance that will be paid.
2. For Most Parties, Courts Will Use a Formula to Calculate the Amount of Spousal Support
Under Illinois law, if a married couple getting divorced collectively earns less than $500,000 per year, then the court will typically apply a formula under spousal support guidelines. How does that formula work? The court will take 33.33 percent of the paying spouse’s net income and subtract 25 percent of the receiving spouse’s net income. The amount remaining is the total amount of spousal support to be awarded, but not exceed 40% of the total family income.
3. Length of the Marriage Determines the Duration of Spousal Support in Most Cases
If the court determines the guidelines are appropriate to use because a couple earns less than $500,000 per year when their salaries are considered together, then the court will also use a formula in the guidelines for calculating the duration of the spousal support award. The duration is based on the length of the marriage. For a marriage that lasted fewer than five (5) years, the duration of the support award is the length of the marriage multiplied by a “statutory factor” of .20. For example, if a marriage lasted for two (2) years, the spousal support award duration would be for .40 years (2 years x 0.20 = 0.40).
The statutory factor increased for additional years of marriage. For example, a marriage that lasted at least five (5) years but fewer than six (6) is multiplied by .24. To jump ahead, a marriage that lasts at least 10 years but fewer than 11 is multiplied by .44. For 20 years or more of marriage, the support award may have an indefinite duration.
4. Courts Do Not Automatically Consider Spousal Maintenance
In order to receive spousal support, the spouse seeking it needs to ask for it through proper legal methods. To be clear, the court will not automatically consider whether one of the spouses is entitled to receive spousal support unless that spouse requests it.
5. Courts Must Decide Whether Spousal Maintenance is Appropriate Before Determining the Amount and Duration of the Award
Before the court ever decides the amount or duration of a spousal support award, it will first look to a wide variety of statutory factors to determine whether a spousal support award is appropriate in the specific circumstances.
Contact a Chicago Spousal Support Lawyer
If you have questions about spousal support in Illinois, either as a paying or receiving spouse, it is important to discuss your concerns with a Chicago spousal support attorney. An advocate at our firm is here to answer your questions. Contact M. Scott Gordon & Associates for more information about how we help with divorce matters in the Chicago area.