People who work hard and take professional risks are often rewarded with commensurately high incomes. While this can be a major personal boon, when it comes to divorce, having a significant income or high net worth can create complications. One of the most complicated areas of divorce for high-net-worth individuals and families is that of alimony (known technically as “spousal maintenance” in Illinois). Cases involving alimony for separated high-net-worth couples can be complex and difficult to predict, leading to frustration for both spouses. Understanding the law in this regard is essential for setting realistic expectations and negotiating for fair alimony payments.
Alimony and High Net Worth Divorce
High net worth divorces are generally regarded as those involving over one million dollars in liquid assets, but as long as a couple makes a combined income of less than $500,000, the length and amount of alimony is calculated according to a formula. The formula uses the length of the marriage to determine the length of payments. To determine the amount of payments, the formula subtracts 25 percent of the net income of the spouse who earns less from 33.3 percent of the net income of the spouse who earns more.
However, in cases where a couple’s combined income exceeds $500,000, couples or judges can deviate from the standard formula. In a perfect world, spouses would always be able to come together and negotiate a total financial separation package that includes agreements about property division, alimony, child support, and other smaller details like insurance coverage. But this is not always possible and when a couple cannot reach a financial settlement on their own and the court intervenes, it can be difficult to anticipate the amount and duration of alimony a judge will order. They will look at several facts before reaching a decision. These include: