People going through a divorce have to think about the many different terms they will have to sort through, whether it is during mediation meetings or through litigation. One of the most common terms that comes up during a divorce case is spousal maintenance. Spousal maintenance is shrouded in many myths and misconceptions, so if you are going through a divorce, it is important to understand the truth behind this common term. To help with this, below are some of the most common questions about spousal maintenance, and the answers to them.
Are Spousal Maintenance and Alimony the Same Thing?
Yes. Although the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act uses the term ‘spousal maintenance’ when talking about payments one spouse will make to the other after divorce, it has the same purpose as alimony.
Does the Lower-Earning Spouse Always Receive Spousal Maintenance?
No. Getting a divorce does not automatically give the lower-earning spouse the right to spousal maintenance. Spousal maintenance is awarded when a judge deems that it is appropriate for a specific situation and orders one spouse to make payments to the other following the divorce. A judge will consider 13 specific factors when determining whether to award spousal maintenance. These include the age, health, needs, vocational skills, and income, as well as the length of the marriage, and the parent that has custody of the children.
How Is Spousal Maintenance Calculated in Illinois?
When a judge decides to award spousal maintenance to one spouse in a divorce, they will use a specific formula to determine the amount of maintenance. When a couple’s combined income is less than $500,000, support is calculated by subtracting 25 percent of the receiver’s income from 33 percent of the payer’s income. So, if the payee’s annual income is calculated at $50,000 and the payer’s annual income is $75,000, the annual amount of support would amount to $12, 250. Thirty-three percent of the payer’s income would be $24,750, of which 25 percent of the payee’s income, $12,500, would be subtracted.
Must Judges Always Follow the Formula?
No. Judges can use their discretion when deviating from the formula, but they must provide their reason for doing so. In high net worth divorce cases, for example, a judge will often deviate from the formula because it is only intended for couples with a combined income of less than $500,000.
Is Spousal Maintenance Tax Deductible?
There was a time that the payer could deduct spousal maintenance from their tax return, while the payee had to claim maintenance payments as income. That is no longer the case. As of January 1, 2019, payers cannot deduct maintenance payments from their tax returns, and payees are no longer required to claim the payments as income.
Our Illinois Family Lawyers can Answer Your Questions
When going through a divorce, there is a good chance that you will have questions about spousal maintenance, and many other terms of your case. At the Law Office of Martoccio & Martoccio, our dedicated Hinsdale family lawyers can answer any questions you have and give you the best chance of securing a favorable settlement during your divorce. Call us today at 630-920-8855 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation so we can review your case.