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On January 1, 2015, the new Section 504 maintenance guidelines became effective in Illinois. Although this statute clearly applies to divorce petitions filed on or after its effective date, its retroactive application to cases filed prior to that date takes careful consideration of whether its provisions are procedural or substantive. If a provision is classified as procedural, then it may be applied retroactively. If a provision is classified as substantive, then it may only be applied prospectively. Caveney v. Bower, 207 Ill. 2d 82 (2003). A provision is classified as procedural if it prescribes the method of enforcing rights, and a provision is classified as substantive if it establishes the rights whose invasion may be redressed. People v. Atkins, 217 Ill. 2d 66, 72 (2005).

If a provision attaches new legal consequences to events completed before its enactment, then it may not be applied retroactively. Commonwealth Edison Co. v. Will County Collector, 196 Ill. 2d 27, 39 (2001). In a divorce case, the “event” from which all rights and obligations flow is the marriage. Therefore, if a marriage was dissolved prior to January 1, 2015, then only those provisions classified as procedural are applicable to such dissolved marriage. The new statute contains several distinct provisions, the retroactivity of which will each be addressed in turn.

The Maintenance Guidelines Formula

Section 504(b-1)(1) states that in situations when the combined gross income of the parties is less than $250,000 and no multiple family situation exists, maintenance payable after the date the parties’ marriage is dissolved shall be in accordance with the new maintenance guidelines formula. Under the formula, both the maintenance amount and duration are determined by a mathematical equation. To calculate the amount and duration of maintenance under the new formula, use the Illinois Maintenance Calculator.

This is a substantive provision that applies only to maintenance awards arising from marriages not dissolved prior to January 1, 2015.

Deviation from the Maintenance Guidelines Formula

Section 504(b-1)(2) states that court may deviate from the maintenance guidelines formula. However, “any non-guidelines award of maintenance shall be made after the court’s consideration of all relevant factors set forth in subsection (a) of this Section.”

This is a procedural provision that may be applied to maintenance awards arising from marriages dissolved prior to January 1, 2015.

Requirement for Specific Findings of Fact

Section 504(b-2) states that in each case involving the issue of maintenance, a court must make specific findings of fact, as follows: (1) the court must state its reasoning for awarding or not awarding maintenance and must reference the 12 enumerated factors listed in Section 504(a); and (2) if the court deviates from the guidelines, then the court must state the amount or duration of maintenance under the guidelines and its reasoning for the deviation.

This is a procedural provision that may be applied to maintenance awards arising from marriages dissolved prior to January 1, 2015.

Definition of Gross Income

Section 504(b-3) states that to arrive at the maintenance amount under the guidelines formula, the parties’ gross incomes must first be determined. The statute defines “gross income” as “all income from all sources, within the scope of that phase in Section 505 of this Act.”

This is a substantive provision that applies only to maintenance awards arising from marriages not dissolved prior to January 1, 2015.

Prohibition of Unallocated Maintenance and Child Support

Section 504(b-4) states that “[u]nless the parties otherwise agree, the court may not order unallocated maintenance and child support in any dissolution judgment or in any post-dissolution order.” The court must make separate allocations for child support and maintenance.

This is a procedural provision that may be applied to maintenance awards arising from marriages dissolved prior to January 1, 2015.

Permanent Termination Date of Maintenance

Section 504(b-4.5) states that if a divorce case is filed before the 10th anniversary of the marriage, a court may now designate a “permanent termination” date for any maintenance award. “The effect of this designation is that maintenance is barred after the ending date of the period during which maintenance is to be paid.”

This is a substantive provision that applies only to maintenance awards arising from marriages not dissolved prior to January 1, 2015.