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What Is Maintenance Or Alimony?

Maintenance used to be called alimony and it is basically financial support for a spouse that is paid by the other spouse after the divorce. Maintenance or spousal support has changed significantly under the law that was originally effective Jan. 1, 2015, and modifications have been made since. Even though it has been in place for a few years now, judges and attorneys are still working through the varied nuances that come up in the actual fact situations.

The new maintenance laws take away much of the judge’s discretion in many cases. There is now a formula set out in the statute to follow. The maintenance law essentially provides a calculation for the amount of maintenance based on the net incomes of each spouse and a table for the duration of maintenance to be applied in most cases even though there is still a requirement that the court first makes a finding on the threshold question of whether maintenance is appropriate in the case. If the finding is affirmative, i.e., that maintenance is appropriate in the circumstances, then the judges move to the next step, the calculation and determination of duration. As a practical matter, the judges will rely on the calculation most of the time. There are some situations, though, where it is easy to see that maintenance is not appropriate at the outset such as a situation where the lower-income earner has a million-dollar nonmarital inheritance, unless perhaps the higher income earner makes more than a million dollars a year!

How Do You Calculate Maintenance?

The calculation is: for cases where the combined gross family annual income is $250,000 or less, take 33% of the higher income earner’s annual net income and subtract from it 25% of the lower-income earner’s annual net income. That gives you an annual amount for maintenance except that the annual maintenance amount when added to the lower-income earner’s annual net income may not exceed 40% of the total combined net income. If it does exceed 40%, then the maintenance amount should be reduced by the amount over 40%. Simple, right! For cases where the combined family annual income is over $250,000 the judge has the discretion to determine the maintenance without regard to the calculation but would probably work out the statutory formula just to have a starting reference point.

Maintenance orders entered prior to Jan. 1, 2019, were tax-deductible to the payor and includible in the income of the recipient. IRS law changed and now orders entered after Jan. 1, 2019, are not tax-deductible or taxable. If a pre-2019 order is before the court after that date for modification, then if both parties agree, the calculation can be changed to the post-2018 formula so that it is not deductible or taxable.

How Long Will Maintenance Last?

The new maintenance law also provides a table calculation for the duration of maintenance based on how long a marriage is, once it is determined to be appropriate in the first place and an amount is calculated. Ordinarily, a person is married until they are divorced, but for purposes of calculating the duration of maintenance, the length of a marriage is measured from the date of the marriage to the date a spouse filed for divorce. The law provides for purposes of calculating the duration of maintenance, the marriage will be deemed to have lasted only until a party files his or her Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The table for the duration of maintenance is composed of various percentages. For example, for marriages of 12 years or more but less than 13 years then the duration shall be 52% of the number of months of the marriage as defined by statute. For marriages of over 20 years, the duration shall be indefinite.

Can Maintenance Be Terminated Early?

Maintenance still terminates when either party dies and when the recipient remarries or begins to live on a conjugal basis with another person even if that happens before the duration period has ended; however, now this early termination is clearly automatic and the law specifies a reimbursement for overpayment retroactive to the remarriage or beginning date of a conjugal relationship. So know that living with a paramour will terminate maintenance even if you don’t remarry. The point is that maintenance is to assist a former spouse with his or her support and if a new partner is assisting with that, then the former spouse should be off the hook! This is just an overview of the most important points needed for a basic understanding of the maintenance laws. There are many more details that would need to be considered that attorney Cellucci would discuss with her client in a comfortable office conference setting in order to be able to give provide a pretty good estimate of the client’s entitlement or obligation regarding maintenance.

Secure Fair Maintenance Or Alimony

The maintenance or alimony from a divorce can define how you live in the years to come after your divorce. Let an attorney with decades of experience help you. Contact The Law Office of Marsha H. Cellucci online or call 630-912-5058 to schedule your initial consultation at her Naperville office today.