Maintenance

Illinois abolished alimony many years ago.  Instead our law provides for maintenance which is practically the same thing. Maintenance is paid by one spouse to the other spouse so that the other spouse has sufficient income to meet his/her living expenses. Normally maintenance is paid when one spouse makes significantly greater income than another spouse.

Generally, there are two (2) types of maintenance, rehabilitative and permanent.  Rehabilitative is maintenance that is paid for a specific period of time with the belief that the person needing it will be capable of supporting himself/herself in the standard of living the person had during the marriage before maintenance ends.  Permanent maintenance is based on the assumption that the person receiving maintenance will never be able to earn the income to maintain the standard of living that existed during the marriage.

The main difference between the two is that if permanent maintenance is ordered, it is presumed that the person in need of maintenance will always need maintenance.  It can only be terminated by the party paying the maintenance proving that there has been a change of circumstance and that the spouse receiving maintenance no longer needs it. Rehabilitative maintenance ends at the time stated in the Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage unless the person receiving it files a Petition and proves that the reasons for giving maintenance did not apply and that there is still a need for it.

If a judge determines maintenance should be paid, there is a statutory guideline for determine the obligation if the gross income of the husband and wife is under $250,000.  The obligations change if either party has a prior obligation of maintenance or support from a prior relationship.

The amount of maintenance is calculate as follows:

1. Take 20% or the payor’s gross income minus 30% of the payee’s gross income but in no        event shall the payor owe more than 40% of the gross income of the parties.

  1. Once the amount of maintenance is determined the duration of maintenance is calculated by multiplying the length of the marriage at the time the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage was filed by the following percentage:

Yrs                  percentage

5 yrs or less                 .2

Less than 10 yrs          .4

Less than 15 yrs          .6

Less than 20 yrs          .8

Over 20 years permanent.

For a marriage that is under ten years, the court may fix maintenance so it cannot be extended.

Maintenance. unlike child support, is taxable to the payee. Sometimes the parties may agree to unallocated maintenance instead of child support so that the payee is paying taxes on all of the support payments. It is normally done when the tax rates of the parties are such that the payee would receive more support after paying taxes by labeling the payments as maintenance. There are rules that must be followed so the IRS will not deem the payment as child support.

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