Over the years, I have written on the trends in maintenance cases. And in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019, at least once each year, Illinois statutory law has been amended regarding maintenance. Illinois law regarding maintenance awards had been based on the facts and circumstances of the case. But now we have certain simplistic presumptions, one could focus on only several numbers–one third of net of the payor; a quarter of the net income of the recipient; 40% net income cap; $500,000 combined gross [increased January 2018]–as well as one phrase, “no obligation to pay child support or maintenance or both from a prior relationship.”
Prior to the 2015 and 2016, I had provided a review of case law and trends reflected from that case law. Because the maintenance guidelines were designed only to provide a “starting place” – even though they actually provide a rebuttable presumption – and because the guidelines have two important exceptions, it is critical to still understand Illinois case law prior to the maintenance guidelines.
This article addresses the interplay between case law driven results and the one-size-fits-all approach of the maintenance guidelines. It is this author’s hope that lawyers will understand that especially with the 2019 amendments blindly following the guidelines can do the client a significant disservice.