The court will consider numerous factors, including but not limited to: both of your incomes, each of your needs, both of your realistic earning capacity and any impairment thereto, the standard of living established during your marriage, and how long your marriage lasted. Although the court must consider all the statutory factors, the court is not required to give each factor equal weight if the balance struck by the court is reasonable under the circumstances. Thus, if you are seeking maintenance from your spouse, and only a few factors are applicable, but the court believes those factors weigh heavily in your favor, the court may find you are entitled to maintenance. Conversely, if your spouse is seeking maintenance from you, and the court believes the factors weigh heavily in your spouse’s favor, the court may find your spouse is entitled to maintenance. On rare occasions, the issue of one or both parties’ eligibility to receive maintenance can be reserved for a number of years post-divorce.
Generally, the court will award maintenance pursuant to the statutory guidelines. This means, for couples with $500,000 or less of combined gross income, the court will take 33% of the payor’s net annual income and subtract 25% of the payee’s net annual income to calculate how much maintenance the payee will receive annually, so long as the resulting figure is not greater than 40% of the combined net incomes of the parties, which serves as a cap. By way of example, if the payor’s net income is $100,000 and the payee’s net income is $50,000, the court will subtract $12,500 (25% of payee’s net income) from $33,000 (33% of the payor’s net income) which amounts to $20,500 in annual maintenance ($33,000 – $12,500 = $20,500). $20,500 divided by twelve (12) amounts to $1,708 in monthly maintenance. Although the court may deviate from statutory guidelines, the court must first consider the statuary factors before deviating. Where the couple has more than $500,000 of combined gross income, the court may deviate from the guidelines.
If the court awards maintenance pursuant to statutory guidelines, the duration is determined by multiplying the length of your marriage by a certain decimal provided in the statute. By way of example, if you and your spouse were married for 10 years, maintenance will be paid for 4 years and 4.8 months (10 years multiplied by 0.44). The court also has the discretion to award maintenance for an indefinite period of time, in which case maintenance shall be paid until either you or your spouse petitions the court for modification or termination. This generally occurs in marriages in excess of twenty (20) years. The court may also award reviewable maintenance, in which case maintenance shall be paid for a specific term and reviewed at the end of that term to determine if it should terminate or be modified/extended for an additional period.
The court has the discretion to bar one or both parties from receiving maintenance. If the court determines that you and/or your spouse are not entitled to maintenance, the court shall bar either or both parties from receiving maintenance. Essentially, once the court finds that you and/or your spouse are not entitled to maintenance, then you and/or your spouse will be unable to ask the court, or any other court, for maintenance from one another in the future.
At Beermann, LLP, we understand that going through a divorce is stressful and emotional and that you may have questions regarding either your financial ability to provide for yourself upon divorcing or questions concerning your ability to pay maintenance to your spouse. Don’t hesitate to contact Thomas Field (email@example.com; 312-621-1216) or one of our other highly qualified attorneys!
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