Effective January 1, 2018, Illinois changed the number of cases subject to the statutory maintenance guidelines and the method for calculating maintenance in all pending divorce cases and for all divorces filed after January 1, 2018. Public Act 100-520, effective January 1, increased the combined income of divorcing individuals that would be subject to the statutory maintenance guidelines from $250,000 per couple to $500,000 per couple.

The effect of the new law is to bring many more cases previously not subject to the statutory maintenance guidelines within the purview of the mandated statutory maintenance payments.

The anticipated outcome of the adoption of the increased income threshold is to reduce litigation about the amount of maintenance to be paid by simply applying the statutorily mandated calculation to more individuals with a much higher annual income.

The new statute also breaks down the calculation of maintenance year by year for the first 20 years of marriage duration. Under the old law, the same calculation was used to determine the amount of maintenance for a 15-year marriage as for a marriage of up to 20 years. The new law now establishes a different percentage multiplier to be applied for each year of the marriage.

Additionally, the new law also grants the court discretion to consider the length of time temporary maintenance was paid and “credit” (reduce) the statutory duration of maintenance. For instance, let’s assume you’ve been involved in a particularly long and protracted divorce case and paid temporary maintenance for two years. The new law enables the judge to reduce the ultimate duration of time you are required to pay maintenance by all or some part of the two years already paid.

There remains in the statute provisions for the court to deviate from the statutory guidelines and perhaps employ alternative methodology to calculate maintenance by reference to facts that warrant an approach other than the one size fits all approach of the statutory guidelines. Particularly for higher income individuals, the need to seek a “deviation” from guidelines is a topic to be discussed with your lawyer very early on in the proceedings due to the common practice of taking temporary orders of maintenance and using them as the basis for the final maintenance order.

Commencing January 1, 2019, federal law will change and maintenance will no longer by deductible from income by the payor or includible in the taxable income of the payee. Weiler & Lengle, P.C. deals with these issues daily and are ready to assist you in your divorce to achieve the most favorable maintenance outcome for you.


Timothy E. Weiler concentrates his practice in family law and is a frequent author and lecturer to lawyers on family law topics. Most recently he presented to lawyers on Illinois’ new child support law. He can be reached by calling 630-587-5600 or emailing tweiler@weilerlengle.com.