Illinois new spousal maintenance laws went into effect on January 1, 2015. A breakdown of how the new guidelines work and the likely effects of them can be found here. But how will these new guidelines actually work in practice? Let's look at some examples to find out.
Jack and Jill
Jack and Jill were married for 7 years. Jack works as a construction worker and earns a gross income of $50,000 per year. Jill is a banker who earns a gross income of $100,000 per year. The judge has determined that Jack is entitled to alimony. The calculation would thus be [$100,000 x .3] - [$50,000 x .2] = $20,000. The judge must then determine 40% of the spouses' combined income, which would be $60,000. Finally, the judge must add the prospective alimony award ($20,000) to Jack's gross income ($50,000), which results in $70,000. This is $10,000 more than the guidelines will allow, which means Jack's award must be reduced. Thus, Jack's alimony award will be $10,000 per year.
The next step is figuring out how long Jack will receive alimony for. The judge will determine this by multiplying the length of their marriage, 7 years, by the factor outlined in the statute, which is .4. This calculation, [7 x .4], results in 2.8, meaning Jack will be entitled to alimony of $10,000 per year for 2.8 years.
Fred and Wilma
Fred and Wilma were married for 12 years. Fred makes $60,000 per year as a geological engineer. Wilma has worked primarily as a homemaker, though she has a side jewelry-making business that earns her $5,000 per year gross income. The calculation for the amount of alimony is [$60,000 x .3] - [$5,000 x .2] = $17,000. 40% of $65,000, their combined income, is $26,000, which is greater than the alimony Wilma would be entitled to. Thus, Wilma will receive $17,000 in alimony per year.
Since Fred and Wilma were married for 12 years, the calculation for the amount of time will be [12 x .6], which is 7.2. Thus, Wilma will receive alimony from Fred in the amount of $17,000 per year for 7.2 years.
Spock and Jim
Spock and Jim were married for nearly 5 years. Spock is employed as a science officer and makes $125,000 per year. Jim is a Captain and earns $66,000 per year. Jim has been awarded spousal maintenance. The calculation is [$125,000 x .3] - [$66,000 x .2] = $24,300. Their combined income is $191,000, and 40% of that is $76,000. Jim's income plus the maintenance award would be greater than $76,000, meaning Jim's alimony award would be capped at $10,000.
Because Spock and Jim were just shy of reaching 5 years of marriage, the duration of Jim's alimony award will likely be .2. [5 x .2] is 1, which means Jim would be entitled to one year of maintenance in the amount of $10,000.
Beyonce and Jay-Z
Beyonce and Jay-Z have been married for 6 years. Beyonce is a singer who ears $240,000 per year. Jay-Z is a private business owner who has had a rough year financially, resulting in no gross income. The court has ordered Beyonce to pay child support to Jay-Z for their child in the amount of $48,000 per year and has determined Jay-Z is entitled to spousal support. In determining the amount of spousal support, the court must first reduce Beyonce's gross income by $48,000, the amount of her child support payments, which leaves her with a gross income of $192,000. The calculation then becomes [$192,000 x .3] - [0 x .2] = $57,600. 40% of the parties' combined income is $76,800, which is greater than the presumptive award. Thus, Jay-Z will be awarded $57,600 in spousal support each year, along with $48,000 in child support.
Beyonce's child support obligation to Jay-Z will last until their daughter is 18. However, because the parties were only married 6 years, her spousal support obligation to Jay-Z will only last 2.4 years, the result of [6 x .4].