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Illinois Spousal Maintenance 2020 | Recent Changes to Illinois Spousal Maintenance Law

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Article written by Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
October 28, 2019

In this article, we explain Illinois Spousal Maintenance Law in 2020 and discuss recent changes to Illinois spousal maintenance law.  We will answer the following questions: “what are the significant changes to Illinois spousal maintenance law 2020?”, “how is spousal maintenance calculated in Illinois in 2020?”, “how are net and gross income calculated in Illinois in 2020?”, “how is the duration of spousal maintenance calculated in Illinois in 2020?”, and “do I have to pay taxes on spousal maintenance in Illinois in 2020?.”

What Are the Significant Changes to Illinois Spousal Maintenance Law 2020?

There aren’t any changes to Illinois spousal maintenance law that will take effect on January 1st, 2020.  The federal tax reform in 2019 introduced many changes, which pushed back some of the Illinois government’s agenda for 2020.  We may see alterations later in the year, but for now, it is best to have a clear understanding of changes that were made in 2019 and how they will impact spousal maintenance law in 2020.  Highlights of these amendments are as follows:

  • Spousal maintenance is no longer tax deductible for the payor, and no longer counts as taxable income for the recipient;
  • The threshold for judges having discretion to deviate from statutory guidelines for calculating the amount of maintenance has been raised from $250,000.00 to $500,000.00 combined income;
  • If maintenance is deemed inappropriate by the court, both parties will be barred from requesting maintenance again for the same case;
  • Any existing maintenance orders entered on or before 12/31/18 shall follow the laws in effect at the time the order was submitted.  If an existing order needs to be modified, old laws will still apply unless both parties agree to observe the new laws upon modification of the order

For a closer look at spousal maintenance, see our article entitled Illinois Spousal Maintenance Explained.

How is Spousal Maintenance Calculated in Illinois in 2020?

The formula for calculating maintenance is the same as it was when the change occurred in 2019.  Statutory guidelines for maintenance are typically applied when the combined income of both parties is less than $500,000, and the payor does not have an additional support or maintenance obligation.  To calculate the statutory guideline amount, take 33.33% of the payor spouse’s net income minus 25% of the recipient spouse’s net income.  However, when the amount calculated for maintenance is added to the net income of the payee, the total cannot exceed 40% of the combined net income of both parties.  Furthermore, if the payee spouse is also responsible for child support, the combined total of maintenance and child support cannot exceed 50% of the payee spouse’s net income.  For more detailed information, see our article entitled How to Calculate Spousal Maintenance in 2020.

How are Net and Gross Income Calculated in Illinois in 2020?

“Gross income” is still defined as all income from all sources, but without maintenance payments awarded in the pending proceedings.  “Net income” is gross income minus certain items defined by statute.  For specifics on gross and net income, see our article entitled How is “Net Income” Calculated for Illinois Spousal Maintenance in 2019.

How is the Duration of Spousal Maintenance Calculated in Illinois in 2020?

In 2019, the method by which the duration of spousal maintenance is determined changed drastically.  The duration of maintenance is still calculated by multiplying a percentage that increases with the length of the marriage, however, the percentages are broken down with a more specific formula.  Prior to 2019, the breakdown for maintenance duration was as follows:

  • 5 years or less (0.20
  • 5-9 years (0.40)
  • 10-14 years (.60)
  • 15-19 years (0.80)
  • 20 or more years, the court is instructed to order maintenance for a term equaling the length of the marriage or, alternatively, permanent maintenance.

Beginning in 2019, the multiplying factors are:

  • Less than 5 years (0.20)
  • 5 years (0.24)
  • 6 years (0.28)
  • 7 years (0.32)
  • 8 years (0.36)
  • 9 years (0.4)
  • 10 years (0.44)
  • 11 years (0.48)
  • 12 years (0.52)
  • 13 years (0.56)
  • 14 years (0.60)
  • 15 years (0.64)
  • 16 years (0.68)
  • 17 years (0.72)
  • 18 years (0.76)
  • 19 years (0.80)
  • For 20 years or more, the period of maintenance will be equal to the duration of the marriage or for an indefinite term.

The most significant modification is that each year has a new percentage by which to calculate the duration of maintenance, as opposed to every 5 years, as it was prior to 2019.  What does this mean for maintenance payments?  Overall, the duration of maintenance will be shorter because of the changes made in 2019.

Do I Have to Pay Taxes on Spousal Maintenance in Illinois in 2020?


The tax burden of maintenance has shifted from the payee to the payor. The short answer is yes, the payor of maintenance will now pay taxes on income that will be paid as maintenance to the receiving spouse. Spousal maintenance is no longer tax-deductible.  If you would like to learn more about the effect the 2019 changes will have on spousal maintenance taxes and awards, please see our article entitled Changes to Illinois Spousal Maintenance.

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Illinois Spousal Maintenance 2020 | Recent Changes to Illinois Spousal Maintenance Law

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