In an action for dissolution of marriage, legal separation, or declaration of invalidity of marriage, the court may grant a temporary or permanent maintenance award for either spouse in amounts and for periods of time as determined by the court, without regard to marital misconduct.  Illinois recently modified the law with respect to maintenance by including guidelines to be used to determine the amount and length of time maintenance will be paid.  This approach is essentially a two-step process.  First, the court is to make a threshold determination as to whether or not maintenance is appropriate by considering the following factors:

  • The income and property of each party;
  • The needs of each party;
  • The present and future earning capacity of each party;
  • Any impairment of the present and future earning capacity of the requesting party due to his/her devoting time to domestic duties, or having foregone or delayed education, training, employment, or career opportunities due to the marriage;
  • The time necessary to enable the requesting party to acquire appropriate education, training, and employment, and whether he/she is able to support him/herself through appropriate employment or is the custodian of a child, making it appropriate that the custodian not seek employment;
  • The standard of living established during the marriage;
  • The duration of the marriage;
  • The age, and physical and emotional condition of both parties;
  • The tax consequences of the property division upon each party’s economic circumstances;
  • Contributions and services by the requesting party to education, training, career or career potential, or license of the paying spouse;
  • Any valid agreement of the parties, and;
  • Any other criteria that the court deems just and equitable.

       If the Court finds that the party requesting maintenance has failed to meet the initial threshold determination by weighing all of the above factors, maintenance will be denied.  If, however, the court determines maintenance is appropriate, it will then determine the amount of maintenance to be paid.  This is done by deducting 20% of the recipient’s gross income from 30% of the payor’s income and adding that figure to the recipient’s income.  If the result is less than 40% of the parties’ combined income, that is the figure to be used.  If the result is 40% or greater, maintenance will be capped at the 40% figure.

       Next, the court must determine the length of time maintenance is to be paid using the following schedule:

  • For marriages of 0-5 years, 20% of the length of the marriage;
  • For marriages of 5-10 years, 40% of the length of the marriage;
  • For marriages of 10-15 years, 60% of the length of the marriage;
  • For marriages of 15-20 years, 80% of the length of the marriage, and;
  • For marriages in excess of 20 years, maintenance can be made permanent.