Modification of Maintenance

Maintenance, also known as alimony or spousal support, is a sum of money given from one spouse to the other to provide for the other spouse’s support during or after the divorce. Maintenance, like all support obligations, may need to be adjusted based on either party’s needs or ability to pay. Where one party is no longer able to pay maintenance at the ordered amount, or where the payee-spouse’s needs have changed, maintenance is modifiable.The exception to this, however, is if your divorce order states that maintenance is non-modifiable.

Can Spousal Maintenance Be Reduced?

The modification of maintenance is covered by 750 ILCS 5/510. An order of maintenance can only be modified or terminated upon a substantial change in circumstances. Most maintenance obligations are for a set period of time, after which they may be subject to review. Where the payee-spouse no longer needs maintenance, or where the payor-spouse can no longer afford to pay maintenance, the maintenance obligation is unlikely to be extended.

When modifying and awarding maintenance, the court will look for answers to a number of questions about the divorce, asset division, earnings, etc., such as:

  • Was a good-faith change made to either party’s employment status or earnings?
  • Has the recipient of maintenance made an effort to support themselves? If not, the spousal support payments may be reduced.
  • Are there any factors that impede the current and future earning capacity of both the payor and payee?
  • How is either party affected by tax consequences surrounding spousal maintenance?
  • What is the duration of the spousal maintenance payments in relation to how long the marriage lasted?
  • How much property was awarded to either party during the divorce, and what’s the status of that property?
  • Are there any other factors the court deems significant?

What is Reasonable Spousal Maintenance?

January 1, 2019, ushered in changes to the award of spousal maintenance in Illinois. Under these new changes, the amount of spousal maintenance is calculated by taking 33-1/3% of the payor’s net annual income and subtracting 25% of the payee’s net annual income. You can find more information in our overview on spousal maintenance in Illinois, and the guidelines the courts follow to calculate it.

How Long is Spousal Maintenance Paid For?

How long spousal maintenance is paid depends on the duration of the marriage.

  • Married less than 5 years (0.20)
  • Married 5 years (0.24)
  • Married 6 years (0.28)
  • Married 7 years (0.32)
  • Married 8 years (0.36)
  • Married 9 years (0.4)
  • Married 10 years (0.44)
  • Married 11 years (0.48)
  • Married 12 years (0.52)
  • Married 13 years (0.56)
  • Married 14 years (0.60)
  • Married 15 years (0.64)
  • Married 16 years (0.68)
  • Married 17 years (0.72)
  • Married 18 years (0.76)
  • Married 19 years (0.80)
  • Married for 20 years or more: The court will either order spousal support for the length of the marriage, or for an indefinite amount of time. This is at the court’s discretion.

For example, if you and your ex-spouse were married for 5 years, you would multiply 5 x 0.24 to get 1.2 years. This how long either you or your spouse would be expected to pay maintenance or alimony.

Rely on Conniff Law Offices for Knowledgeable Legal Support

Are you trying to get a spousal maintenance order modified, or do you have questions about the recent changes to maintenance or alimony payments in Illinois? Conniff Law Offices can provide you with expert legal guidance, whether you’re receiving or paying alimony. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with a Chicago or Oak Park divorce lawyer.

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