Maintenance & Alimony

Maintenance, formerly known as alimony, is a payment from one spouse to another. Maintenance is a complicated area. Simply determining if someone is entitled to maintenance is challenging. If maintenance is appropriate, there are many forms it can take including reviewable, permanent, non-modifiable, etc. Additionally, difficult tax laws must be analyzed to determine your best options. I have a Masters of Law Degree in Taxation, which helps me analyze these complex laws for my clients.

Maintenance & Alimony Considerations

Illinois state law does not consider misconduct or fault when determining maintenance. Instead, some of the factors used to decide if maintenance should be awarded include those listed below. These criteria are also used to determine the amount of maintenance where the guidelines are not applicable.

  • The income, assets, and net worth of each spouse
  • Non-marital property owned by the individual seeking alimony
  • The income level – both future and present – of each spouse
  • Domestic factors that would inhibit the earning capacity of a spouse (e.g. childcare)
  • Any decisions made to stop or delay education or employment as a result of the marriage
  • The time required for a spouse to position themselves financially to support themselves
  • The couple’s standard of living during the marriage
  • How long the marriage lasted
  • The age, mental capacity, and emotional state of each spouse
  • Payments and financial contributions made by the requestor of alimony to their spouses education, training, and job
  • Miscellaneous – any other factors that the court deems relevant


Once spousal support has been deemed appropriate, the court will look at the combined incomes of the spouses. Guidelines in Illinois only apply to couples making a combined gross income of less than $250,000 year.

Once the gross combined income has been determined, a formula is used to determine the amount of maintenance. The formula mandates that spousal support be based on:

  • 30% of the total income of spouse who earns more minus
  • 20% of the total income of spouse who earns less

There is a cap to be applied in certain cases to ensure that the recipient of maintenance cannot be awarded more than 40% of the previously combined spousal income.


The new guidelines set the length of maintenance based on the length of marriage. These terms state that the years of marriage should be factored by a specific percentage:

  • 0-5 years – a factor of .20
  • 5-10 years – a factor of .40
  • 10-15 years – a factor of .60
  • 15-20 years – a factor of .80

These terms also allow that marriages lasting 20 or more years can be deemed eligible for permanent support or maintenance that equals the total length of the marriage.

Experience Working for You:

If you have questions about your right to maintenance or your obligation to pay it, let me put my legal and tax experience to work for you.