Adultery & Divorce in Illinois

Before January 1, 2016, Illinois divorce laws recognized fault grounds for divorce, including adultery, alcoholism, mental and physical abuse, and more. However, changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act removed those grounds and made Illinois a pure no-fault divorce state. Now, grounds for a divorce in Illinois need only be based on “irreconcilable differences,” or issues that cannot be resolved despite attempts to reconcile. It must be shown that these differences are not only irreparable but also that it’s in the best interest of the parties involved to end the marriage.

Even if your spouse’s adultery may have caused the irretrievable breakdown of your marriage, their adultery isn’t grounds for a divorce; the breakdown of the marriage is. Understandably, this means that the monetary elements of a divorce (child support, alimony or spousal maintenance, and property division) are not determined with any regard to misconduct during the marriage.

Is Adultery Illegal?

Technically, yes, although it depends on the state. Florida, Kansas, Idaho, Arizona, and yes, Illinois, recognize cheating as a crime. In Illinois, adultery is a Class A misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine as high as $2,500, court supervision, and/or imprisonment. Despite the potential for punishment, adultery is somewhat of an antiquated crime in Illinois and is seldom charged.

Does Adultery Affect Alimony in a Divorce?

Adultery may be the reason for a marriage’s dissolution, but the courts can’t use it to determine alimony awards. This is to ensure the decision of the court is fair and reasonable for the parties involved. Instead of basing a decision on marital misconduct, judges review the following factors without bias:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The age and wellbeing of the spouses
  • Each spouse’s income, as well as the marital property and non-marital property of the spouse pursuing alimony
  • Each spouse’s needs
  • The current and future earning capacity of each party
  • Whether the spouse pursuing alimony has the time to receive education, training, or employment while supporting themselves, or if they must instead care for a child/children with no time for employment
  • Prenuptial agreements or other valid agreements

Conniff Law Offices: Chicago & Oak Park’s Family Law Experts

The attorneys at Conniff Law Offices help our clients navigate the ins and outs of the dissolution of marriage or civil union, including assistance with child support, spousal maintenance, and property division. Contact us to speak with our knowledgeable and compassionate team of legal professionals, and to learn more about the services our Chicago and Oak Park family law experts can provide.

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Alimony in Illinois: Spousal Maintenance in 2019

In Illinois, 2019 brings changes to the system for payments of alimony, spousal maintenance, or spousal support. Here’s a summary of what to expect if you are contemplating divorce or legal separation. If you have further questions, contact us today.

Is Alimony Appropriate?

The Court will consider various factors before determining that an award of spousal maintenance is appropriate for your circumstances, including, but not limited to:

  • All sources of income for each party;
  • Each party’s property (regardless of whether it was acquired before or during the marriage);
  • A party’s needs;
  • A party’s earning capacity;
  • A party’s ability to acquire necessary training or education to re-enter the workforce or gain new skills; and
  • A party’s parenting responsibilities.

Guideline Maintenance

If the combined gross annual income of the parties is less than $500,000, and the payor has no obligation to pay child support, maintenance, or both from a prior judgment, the Court can use the maintenance guidelines described below.

The Court will state whether the maintenance is fixed-term, indefinite, reviewable, or reserved (i.e. no maintenance will be paid immediately, but there may be a need for maintenance in the future).

Amount of Alimony

Beginning on January 1, 2019, the amount of maintenance will be calculated by taking 33-1/3% of the payor’s net annual income and deducting 25% of the payee’s net annual income. However, the amount awarded to the payee must be less than 40% of the combined net income of the parties.

Duration of Alimony

The maintenance term will be calculated by multiplying the length of the marriage (as of the date the action was filed) by the applicable percentages below:

Duration of MarriagePercentageMaintenance Term
Less than 5 years20%0.8 years or less
5 years or more but less than 624%1.2 years
6 years or more but less than 78%1.68 years
7 years or more but less than 832%2.24 years
8 years or more but less than 936%2.88 years
9 years or more but less than 1040%3.6 years
10 years or more but less than 1144%4.4 years
11 years or more but less than 1248%5.28 years
12 years or more but less than 1352%6.24 years
13 years or more but less than 1456%7.28 years
14 years or more but less than 1560%8.4 years
15 years or more but less than 1664%9.6 years
16 years or more but less than 1768%10.88 years
17 years or more but less than 1872%12.24 years
18 years or more but less than 1976%13.68 years
19 years or more but less than 2080%15.2 years
20 or more yearsLength of the marriage, or for an indefinite term, in the Court’s discretion.

Alimony Calculation Example

Let’s now consider how the new guidelines will work. If a couple has been married for 14 years, and their net income is $220,000.00 (Spouse A earns $200,000.00, and Spouse B earns $20,000.00), the terms of 750 ILCS 5/504 (b-1)(1) will apply.

When we apply the guideline maintenance formula under subparagraph 504 (b-1)(1)(A) of the new statute, the result will be as follows:

Payor’s annual net income:$200,000.00
33-1/3% of payor’s net income:$66,666.66
Payee’s annual net income:$20,000.00
25% of payee’s net income:$5,000.00
Annual Maintenance:$66,666.66 – $5,000 = 61,666.66
Combined net income of parties:$200,000.00 + $20,000.00 = $220,000.00
40% of combined net income:$88,000.00
Annual Maintenance + payee’s net income$81,666.66

Maintenance and payee’s net income is less than 40% of the parties’ combined net incomes. Therefore, under the new statute, annual maintenance payments of $66,666.66 would apply.

Calculating the length of maintenance to Spouse B, we will apply the multipliers described in subparagraph 504 (b-1)(1)(B) of the statute. A marriage of 14 years or more, but less than 15 years, has a multiplier of .6. A marriage of 14 years will result in maintenance for 14 x .6 years, or 8.4 years.

Modification of Maintenance Orders Entered Before 1/1/19

If maintenance was ordered before January 1, 2019, and there is a need for a subsequent modification after January 1, 2019, the modified maintenance will continue to be calculated based on gross income for federal tax purposes, unless both parties expressly agree otherwise, and that agreement is included in the modification order.

Tax Deductions

For couples divorcing after January 1, 2019, the payor cannot deduct maintenance payments from gross income on his or her federal income taxes. Similarly, the payee will not include his or her maintenance payments in taxable income on his or her federal income tax returns.

If you have any questions about these new laws and how they may affect your divorce proceedings or any modifications of existing maintenance awards, contact our attorneys at 708-763-0999.


Current Illinois Maintenance Statute:

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Highlights of The New Tax Law’s Impact on Divorcing Couples

If you have been reading about the new tax laws that are going into effect in 2018, you are not alone. How will these new tax laws affect you and your family in the event of a divorce or separation? We would like to take some time to explain as much as we can. If you have further questions, do not hesitate to give us a call, or contact us online.  Continue reading

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Six Tips to Refine Your Parenting Skills

Being a parent is one of the toughest jobs a person can ever have, and good parenting can difficult for even the best of us. Even when you have the best intentions, things often go differently from what you’d hoped. In the face of these challenges, you may wonder what good parenting even is or how to be a better parent. Continue reading

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Avoiding Lengthy, Expensive Divorce Litigation in Court

Divorce has a reputation for being a long, arduous and contentious process that pits both spouses against each other in a vicious, no-holds-barred court fight to determine everything including division of assets, spousal maintenance, parenting time, and child support.

This traditional view of divorce proceedings is somewhat antiquated and can in large part be avoided Continue reading

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