Dissolution of Long-Term Marriage

When a couple has been married for decades, certain elements of divorce can be complicated. It can lead to serious financial concerns when a single household with combined income becomes two separate households with less income each. There are many factors to consider when a long-term marriage is dissolved.

Division of marital property when a long-term marriage ends

When a marriage of any length ends in Illinois, all marital property (assets and debts) is divided between the spouses. Family courts divide marital property based on equitable distribution – a division that is fair but not necessarily equal. All the debts and property you and your spouse have accumulated will have to be divided between you, including:

  • Marital home and any vacation properties or other real estate
  • Furniture and household items
  • Cars and other motor vehicles
  • Retirement accounts of either party, including 401(k)s
  • Stocks and bonds
  • Business interests

Keeping the marital home when a long-term marriage ends

You may want to keep the home you have lived in for years with your spouse. If you are awarded the home in the division of marital property, you will also be responsible for the taxes and upkeep on the property and you may need to refinance the mortgage into your sole name. This may be more difficult to manage when you no longer have the combined income of both spouses. What to do with the marital home is an important consideration in the dissolution of a long-term marriage.

Spousal maintenance after many years of marriage

Maintenance, formerly known as alimony, is another critical issue when a long-term marriage dissolves. Once the marriage has lasted for 20 years, the maintenance duration becomes “indefinite.” This was previously referred to as “permanent” maintenance.

Factors considered in awarding spousal maintenance

Spousal maintenance is not awarded in all divorces. Factors family courts consider include:

  • Financial needs of each spouse
  • Income and property of each spouse
  • Division of marital assets
  • Earning potential of both spouses
  • The negative impact the marriage had on the earning potential of the spouse seeking maintenance
  • Standard of living established during the marriage

How spousal maintenance is calculated in Illinois

A simple formula is used to calculate alimony in Illinois. The formula is:

  • 33% of the payor’s annual net income minus 25% of the payee’s annual net income equals the yearly amount of spousal maintenance to be paid.

This formula is used to calculate spousal maintenance with one condition. The amount of maintenance awarded cannot result in the spouse who receives the payments earning more than 40% of the combined net income of both spouses.

Duration of spousal maintenance awards in Chicago or Chicagoland suburban areas

Under state guidelines, a formula is used to calculate the duration of spousal maintenance payments. The duration of the marriage is a variable in the formula. For example:

  • If the marriage lasts six to seven years, the duration of spousal maintenance payments will be 28% of the duration of the marriage.
  • For a marriage that lasted 10 to 11 years, the duration of alimony payments will be 44% of the duration of the marriage.
  • If a marriage lasted 19 to 20 years, the duration of spousal maintenance payments will be 80% of the duration of the marriage.

If you come to Beermann LLP for the dissolution of a long-term marriage, you will have a team of attorneys at the top of their field representing you. Our firm was established more than 60 years ago and our family law attorneys are known for achieving top-notch results.