Posted on in Spousal Support

IL divorce lawyerThere are many different reasons that an ex-spouse could seek a modification of spousal maintenance (also described as alimony or spousal support). In a divorce case in DuPage County, the court might award spousal support to one of the parties based on certain factors from the marriage, and that spouse’s ability to earn a living without obtaining additional education or training. In short, an Illinois court may determine that spousal maintenance is appropriate, and then it will award a specific amount of alimony. In most cases, the amount and the duration of alimony is based on a formula, so it is streamlined. Yet that formula considers both spouses’ incomes when determining the amount of the award.

Accordingly, if one of the spouse’s incomes changes significantly, it could be a reason to ask the court to modify the support payments. We want to provide you with more information generally, but if you have specific questions about your particular circumstances, you should seek advice from an Oakbrook Terrace divorce lawyer.

Calculating Spousal Support in Illinois

Illinois law now says that, for most couples getting divorced where alimony is appropriate, courts should use a formula for calculating the amount of spousal support. That formula says the court should take 33.3 percent of the paying spouse’s net income and subtract 25 percent of the receiving spouse’s net income. The remaining amount is the spousal support amount. For most couples that collectively earn less than $500,000, the court will apply this formula.

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IL divorce lawyerWhen you are preparing for a divorce in DuPage County and are anticipating that you will either be paying alimony (also known as spousal maintenance) or receiving it, it is important to understand how these types of payments work under Illinois law. Generally speaking, in order for one spouse to be eligible to receive support, that spouse has to request support. Then, the next step involves the court looking at a number of different factors to determine whether spousal maintenance is appropriate in the given case. The court must make this determination before it ever considers how maintenance will be paid, for long the payments will last, and how much will get paid. If the court decides spousal maintenance is not appropriate, it never even considers how and when alimony will be paid.

If a court does decide alimony is appropriate, then the court’s next steps are to determine the amount and duration of the alimony award. For most DuPage County residents, the court will use guidelines with formulas to make those determinations. Only once the court has decided the amount and duration of the alimony award will it reach the issue of how it actually gets paid and with what frequency. The frequency of alimony payments can be an important one, both for the spouse making the payments and the spouse receiving the payments. Our DuPage County divorce lawyers want to provide you with more information about lump sum payments.

What Is a Lump Sum Payment for Spousal Maintenance in Illinois?

Spousal support awards typically are paid monthly over a particular duration. For example, if a court determines that Spouse A should pay Spouse B an amount of $2,000 per month for 48 months, then that amount usually would get paid monthly, for a total of $96,000 once the total alimony award is paid out in full.

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IL divorce lawyerSpousal maintenance, also known as spousal support or alimony, is not awarded in every divorce case. However, there are numerous divorces in the Oakbrook Terrace area in which one of the spouses will be awarded spousal maintenance. We often work with clients in the DuPage County Muslim community who have questions about spousal support and how it works. The following are five things to know about spousal maintenance in DuPage County. If you have additional questions or concerns, an experienced Oakbrook Terrace divorce lawyer at Farooqi & Husain Law Office can assist you.

1. The Spouse Who Wants Maintenance Must Request It

In a divorce case, courts do not automatically consider whether one spouse should be receiving maintenance and whether the other spouse should be responsible for paying it. Rather, under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), the spouse who wants to obtain spousal maintenance must first request it. To ensure that the court considers awarding spousal maintenance, the party seeking it should work with an experienced DuPage County divorce lawyer.

2. Court Decides Whether Maintenance Is Appropriate Before Considering Amount or Duration

When one of the spouses in a divorce case seeks spousal maintenance, the court goes through a series of steps in the process of awarding maintenance or support. The IMDMA requires that the court first consider whether maintenance is even appropriate before it makes any considerations about the amount and duration of the award. The IMDMA outlines a wide variety of factors that the court may consider in deciding whether support is appropriate in a particular divorce case.

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IL divorce lawyerAnyone who is going through a divorce in DuPage County likely has questions and concerns about the financial aspects of divorce. More specifically, you may be wondering: will I need to pay spousal maintenance, or will I be eligible to receive spousal maintenance? In the event spousal maintenance is awarded, most couples in DuPage County will have spousal maintenance calculated accorded to guidelines based on income. While courts can deviate from these guidelines in some circumstances, the guidelines are a good bet for calculating a likely spousal maintenance award.

Determining Whether a Spousal Maintenance Award Is Appropriate

Before you begin calculating a likely spousal maintenance award, it is important to understand that everyone is not simply entitled to spousal maintenance. Under Section 504 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), before the court ever gets to the point of calculating a spousal maintenance award, it first needs to make a finding as to whether a maintenance award is appropriate. To do so, it considers a wide variety of factors listed in the statute. Examples of some of those factors include but are not limited to:

  • Each of the parties’ incomes;
  • Needs of each of the parties;
  • Present and future earning capacity of each of the parties;
  • Impairment of either of the parties’ present and future earning capacity due to devoting time to domestic duties during the marriage;
  • Standard of living established during the marriage;
  • Duration of the marriage; and
  • Age and health of each of the parties.

Once the court determines that one of the spouses should receive a maintenance award, then its calculation of the amount of the award largely depends upon the couples’ combined income.

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IL family lawyerAs you may know, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA)—better known as Trump tax reform—will change the way in which spousal maintenance affects taxes. In short, after the new year, the spouse making alimony payments will have to pay more money in taxes, while the spouse receiving alimony payments will have to pay less in taxes. However, a new Illinois law considers these federal tax law changes and makes it so that the spouse making payments is not as adversely affected as she or he otherwise might have been. We will say more about how spousal maintenance is taxed, and then we will talk about the calculations for spousal maintenance after 2019 when both laws (federal and state) will take effect.

How Spousal Maintenance and Taxation Currently Works

Currently, under Illinois law (750 ILCS 5/504), here is how taxation works when it comes to spousal maintenance: the spouse who makes alimony payments (the payor) can deduct the spousal maintenance payments from his or her income prior to paying taxes, while the spouse who receives alimony payments (the payee) must pay taxes on the spousal maintenance payments in the same way that the spouse would pay taxes on other types of “income.”

However, under the TCJA, the new federal tax law, any divorce that is finalized on or after January 1, 2019 will see a major change when it comes to taxing spousal maintenance. For these divorces, the payor spouse will be required to pay taxes on spousal maintenance payments while the payee spouse no longer will have to pay taxes on spousal maintenance payments received. What is the effect of this? In brief, the payor spouse ends up paying more in the long run, while the payee spouse retains more money and pays less in taxes in the long run. Since the payor spouse earns more money than the payee spouse, the payor spouse’s income typically is taxed at a higher rate. As such, taxing the spousal maintenance payments on the payor’s end in most cases will mean that the taxes are higher and the federal government receives more from that payment in taxes.

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