Kevin R. Johnson, Attorney

Calculating Alimony (Maintenance)
in a Divorce Case

In Illinois law, alimony is called “maintenance.”  Section 504 of the Illinois Marriage Act, officially known as “750 ILCS 5/504 Maintenance,” says that

“… the court may grant a maintenance award for either spouse in amounts and for periods of time as the court deems just, without regard to marital misconduct, and the maintenance may be paid from the income or property of the other spouse. The court shall first make a finding as to whether a maintenance award is appropriate, after consideration of all relevant factors, including:,”

So, maintenance (alimony) might be ordered in a particular case, if the judge determines that “… a maintenance award is appropriate…” after considering a list of relevant factors. 

These factors in Section 504 are:

(1) the income and property of each party, including marital property apportioned and non-marital property assigned to the party seeking maintenance as well as all financial obligations imposed on the parties as a result of the dissolution of marriage;
(2) the needs of each party;
(3) the realistic present and future earning capacity of each party;
(4) any impairment of the present and future earning capacity of the party seeking maintenance due to that party devoting time to domestic duties or having forgone or delayed education, training, employment, or career opportunities due to the marriage;
(5) any impairment of the realistic present or future earning capacity of the party against whom maintenance is sought;
(6) the time necessary to enable the party seeking maintenance to acquire appropriate education, training, and employment, and whether that party is able to support himself or herself through appropriate employment;
(6.1) the effect of any parental responsibility arrangements and its effect on a party’s ability to seek or maintain employment;
(7) the standard of living established during the marriage;
(8) the duration of the marriage;
(9) the age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities, and the needs of each of the parties;
(10) all sources of public and private income including, without limitation, disability and retirement income;
(11) the tax consequences to each party;
(12) contributions and services by the party seeking maintenance to the education, training, career or career potential, or license of the other spouse;
(13) any valid agreement of the parties; and
(14) any other factor that the court expressly finds to be just and equitable.

That’s a long list.  As you can see, the length of the marriage, and each party’s health and earning ability are very important.  Factor #14 allows the Court to any other factor that seems “… just and equitable” to the Court.

Then, if the Court determines that maintenance is appropriate, Section 504, and if the combined gross yearly income of the parties is less than $500,000 — and the person who’ll be paying maintenance has no prior child support or maintenance obligations from another relationship, then there are some ‘guidelines’ to help calculate the amount of maintenance:

(A) The amount of maintenance under this paragraph (1) shall be calculated by taking 33 1/3% of the payor’s net annual income minus 25% of the payee’s net annual income. The amount calculated as maintenance, however, when added to the net income of the payee, shall not result in the payee receiving an amount that is in excess of 40% of the combined net income of the parties.

This calculation of 1/3 of the higher earner’s net income minus 1/4 of the lower earner’s income seems clear, and then the maximum payment amount is 40% of the combined net income of the parties.  (‘Net income’ means gross income minus taxes and certain required or allowed deductions.)

How long should the maintenance payments continue?  According to the Section-504 guidelines, that is based on the length of the marriage:

If you’d like to discuss your particular divorce situation, either before or after you’ve filed a case in court, please give me a call anytime, 7 days/week, at 312-293-4241
Kevin Johnson