Amendments to Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, Section 504, concerning maintenance. Part I
The Maintenance statute of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act Section 504 was amended so as to take affect this January 1, 2015. This applies to divorce cases in Palatine, Arlington Heights, Rolling Meadows and other areas of Illinois. Maintenance, formerly known as alimony, is the right of one spouse to receive income from the other spouse. This blog, which shall be published in several parts, seeks to create an understanding as to how the new maintenance statute will operate and what it means to an obligor. It shall also contain specific examples so as to further show just how the statute will work and how it will work together with Section 505 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act which controls the determination of child support. As the factoring of maintenance will play a crucial role in understanding the total obligation of an obligor when children are involved.
Part I – Former Section 504.
Under the former Section 504 entitled “Maintenance” the Court would have very wide discretion as to the amount of maintenance to be paid to the receiving spouse and the duration for which the maintenance would be paid. The statute stated that, “. . .the court may grant a temporary or permanent maintenance award for either spouse in amounts and for periods of time as the court deems just without regard to marital misconduct, in gross or for fixed or indefinite periods of time, and the maintenance may be paid from the income or property of the other spouse after consideration of all relevant factors” Thus the court must use its own subjective judgment to determine how much maintenance will be paid and for how long. This created for many practitioners a feeling of uncertainty as to what a particular maintenance award should be. The problem with the old statute arises when one considers that a single fact pattern may have very different outcomes when analyzed by different judges. Thus, the legislature sought to alleviate the litigant from the unknowns that would arise from the prior law.
For example, in the article to follow, we shall look at the sum of the factors that the court would consider when determining a maintenance award and how these factors can create a somewhat arbitrary outcome when applied by different judges. We shall then see how the amended statute makes the process more mechanical and certainly more predictable.