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When will spousal support be awarded based on legal guidelines?

Illinois has certain guidelines that it uses when making spousal support determinations. Many who are unfamiliar with family law issues may be unaware of when the amount and duration of the support, also called maintenance, will adhere to legal guidelines. When the court makes a determination that the award should be given, it will decide whether or not it should adhere to these guidelines. There are, after all, certain instances when the guidelines are inappropriate. This post will focus on when the guidelines are appropriate.

Typically, if the guidelines are followed, the maintenance amount will be calculated by examining the gross income of the spouse who will be paying and taking 30 percent of it minus 20 percent of the amount the receiving spouse earns in income. When the maintenance amount is calculated and it is added to the receiving spouse's gross income, it cannot result in the receiving spouse getting more than 40 percent of the combined gross income of both.

The duration of maintenance is based on the length of the marriage at the time the divorce action was initiated. The length of the marriage will be multiplied by that amount of time. If the marriage lasted for five years or fewer, it will be multiplied by .20. In instances where the marriage lasted longer than five years but fewer than 10, it will be multiplied by .40. If the marriage lasted 10 years or more but fewer than 15 years, it will be multiplied by .60. If it was 15 years or more but fewer than 20 years, it will be multiplied by .80. If the marriage lasted for 20 or more years, the court will have the discretion to order permanent maintenance or maintenance that lasts as long as the marriage did.

When a couple parts ways, they might believe that the amount of spousal support is ingrained and they will automatically have to pay and receive it in a defined amount based on certain guidelines. They need to remember, however, that there are variables in how much will be paid and it depends on various factors. With family law issues, having legal help is an imperative. Speaking to an attorney experienced in family law often proves beneficial.

Source: Illinois General Assembly, "Sec. 504. Maintenance -- Maintenance award in accordance with guidelines." accessed on Aug. 8, 2016

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