Basic Guide to Illinois Maintenance and Alimony​

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2024 Basic Guide to Illinois Maintenance and Alimony


Maintenance, also known as alimony, is a post-divorce financial support from one ex-spouse to another to aid independent living. The Illinois maintenance statute is gender-neutral; both ex-spouses could be eligible for maintenance.
Eligibility for maintenance is determined by the court based on factors like income, needs, and standard of living.
The duration of maintenance payments is proportionate to the length of the marriage, with various multipliers for different ranges of years married.
Maintenance obligations are legally terminated upon the death or remarriage of the recipient, or if the recipient cohabits with another on a conjugal basis.
Next Steps: Read the additional information about Illinois prenuptial agreements below. If you would like additional assistance call or schedule a consultation online.

Basic Information

In General

In Illinois, alimony is referred to as maintenance. In general, maintenance is an amount of money that one ex-spouse must pay to the other ex-spouse after they are divorced. The purpose of maintenance is to help an ex-spouse support themselves and live independently after a divorce. There are various different types of maintenance, each of which will be discussed below. In addition, it is important to note that the Illinois maintenance statute is gender-neutral, which means that either ex-spouse, regardless of gender, could be awarded maintenance, depending on their circumstances.

The Statute: 750 ILCS 5/504

In Illinois, maintenance for an ex-spouse can be awarded pursuant to 750 ILCS 5/504, which provides, in part, that “the court may grant a maintenance award for either spouse in amounts and for periods of time as the court deems just.” Maintenance awards do not consider any marital misconduct which may have been engaged in by either ex-spouse.

Step 1: Is Maintenance Appropriate?

In making its determination as to whether or not an award of maintenance is appropriate the court considers multiple factors, including:

(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.

750 ILCS 5/504(a)

In weighing these factors, the court is not required to give each factor equal weight.

Step 2: How Much Maintenance is Appropriate?

If the court conducts the above analysis, and determines that a maintenance award is appropriate, it will then order either (1) guideline maintenance, or (2) non-guideline maintenance.

Guideline Maintenance

Guideline maintenance will likely be ordered if (1) the combined gross annual income of the parties is less than $500,000, and (2) the ex-spouse who will be obligated to pay maintenance does not have an obligation to pay child support or maintenance from a prior relationship.

Amount of Maintenance

750 ILCS 5/504(b-1)(1)(A) provides the calculation for the amount of maintenance which will likely be ordered under the guideline maintenance approach. It describes that: The amount of maintenance *** 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. 750 ILCS 5/504(b-1)(1)(A)

Step 3: For How Long is Maintenance Appropriate?

750 ILCS 5/504(b-1)(1)(A) provides that the duration of a maintenance award:

shall be calculated by multiplying the length of the marriage at the time the [divorce] action was commenced by whichever of the following factors applies:

less than 5 years (.20);

5 years or more but less than 6 years (.24);

6 years or more but less than 7 years (.28);

7 years or more but less than 8 years (.32);

8 years or more but less than 9 years (.36);

9 years or more but less than 10 years (.40);

10 years or more but less than 11 years (.44);

11 years or more but less than 12 years (.48);

12 years or more but less than 13 years (.52);

13 years or more but less than 14 years (.56);

14 years or more but less than 15 years (.60);

15 years or more but less than 16 years (.64);

16 years or more but less than 17 years (.68);

17 years or more but less than 18 years (.72);

18 years or more but less than 19 years (.76);

19 years or more but less than 20 years (.80).

For a marriage of 20 or more years, the court, in its discretion, shall order maintenance for a period equal to the length of the marriage or for an indefinite term.

750 ILCS 5/504(b-1)(1)(A)

What are the Types of Maintenance?

As of January 1, 2019, 750 ILCS 5/504(b-2)(3) provides that the court must state the type of maintenance. Specifically, “whether the maintenance is fixed-term, indefinite, reviewable, or reserved by the court.”

750 ILCS 5/504(b-4.5) describes those three different “maintenance designations” as follows:

(1) Fixed-term maintenance. If a court grants maintenance for a fixed term, the court shall designate the termination of the period during which this maintenance is to be paid. Maintenance is barred after the end of the period during which fixed-term maintenance is to be paid.

(2) Indefinite maintenance. If a court grants maintenance for an indefinite term, the court shall not designate a termination date. Indefinite maintenance shall continue until modification or termination under Section 510.

(3) Reviewable maintenance. If a court grants maintenance for a specific term with a review, the court shall designate the period of the specific term and state that the maintenance is reviewable. Upon review, the court shall make a finding in accordance with subdivision (b-8) of this Section, unless the maintenance is modified or terminated under Section 510.

(emphasis added) 750 ILCS 5/504(b-4.5).

What Events Can Terminate Maintenance

Illinois has established some events which, if they occur, will terminate a maintenance obligation. Often referred to as “statutory events”, they are described in 750 ILCS 5/510(c) as follows:

(c) Unless otherwise agreed by the parties in a written agreement set forth in the judgment or otherwise approved by the court, the obligation to pay future maintenance is terminated upon the death of either party, or the remarriage of the party receiving maintenance, or if the party receiving maintenance cohabits with another person on a resident, continuing conjugal basis.

An obligor’s obligation to pay maintenance or unallocated maintenance terminates by operation of law on the date the obligee remarries or the date the court finds cohabitation began. The obligor is entitled to reimbursement for all maintenance paid from that date forward.

Any termination of an obligation for maintenance as a result of the death of the obligor, however, shall be inapplicable to any right of the other party or such other party’s designee to receive a death benefit under such insurance on the obligor’s life.

An obligee must advise the obligor of his or her intention to marry at least 30 days before the remarriage, unless the decision is made within this time period. In that event, he or she must notify the obligor within 72 hours of getting married. (emphasis added). (emphasis added)

750 ILCS 5/510(c).

What Next?

This Basic Guide to Illinois Maintenance and Alimony page contains general information only. It is no replacement for an individualized consultation with an attorney.

If you need help, or have questions about the information on the Basic Guide to Illinois Maintenance and Alimony page, please call, or schedule a free, 30 minute consultation via Zoom, to speak with an attorney directly about your specific circumstances.

Illinois Family Law Basic Guide to Illinois Maintenance and Alimony

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