What You Should Know about Spousal Maintenance in Colorado

What You Should Know about Spousal Maintenance in Colorado

Spousal maintenance (also known as alimony) is the money paid to a spouse during and following a divorce if he or she is unable to provide for his or her own reasonable needs. Colorado does not offer an automatic right to long-term alimony, which means that in each case the court will examine the circumstances of the parties and determine if either spouse qualifies. There are several factors that play a role in the determination, which are set out in C.R.S. § 14-10-114, and include each spouse’s standard of living during the marriage and the supporting spouse’s ability to pay spousal support.

Temporary Maintenance in Colorado

According to C.R.S. § 14-10-114, the formula for temporary maintenance in which parties have a combined adjusted gross income of less than $75,000 per year is 40% of the higher earner’s monthly income minus 50% of the lower earner’s monthly income. This formula applies at the temporary orders stage of the divorce case. Temporary maintenance should not affect the amount of the maintenance award that is decided at the permanent orders hearing.

Long-term Maintenance in Colorado

As of January 1, 2014, Colorado instituted a formula to help judges determine spousal maintenance awards. The formula calculates support by taking 40% of the higher income earner’s monthly income and subtracting 50% of the lower earner’s monthly income. The duration of the maintenance award ranges from one-third to one-half of the length of the marriage, dependent upon the length of the marriage. Maintenance will only be awarded at Permanent Orders in marriages of three years in length or longer.

Ultimately, the final decision concerning maintenance is still in the hands of the judge who is able to take into account financial resources, financial need, marital property, and each of the spouse’s separate incomes, and may deviate from the suggested maintenance award from the formula described above. This formula provides a less subjective way in which to determine maintenance awards and helps parties have a better idea of the outcome of a hearing in Court.

Valuing a Spouse’s Contribution

Situations in which one spouse “worked” inside of the home as a homemaker or raising children often complicated matters related to spousal maintenance. That spouse might have been capable of working outside the home, but instead chose to support the family and now faces a different earning ability than had he or she spent years gainfully employed. In situations such as this, the court is tasked with determining the supported spouse’s earning potential now and in the future, which can be subjective.

In part, this is why spousal maintenance issues are such a highly contested aspect of divorce. How can a spouse’s commitment to his or her family and home be valued? Is that person expected to join the workforce now as a result of the divorce or should support be permanent? Each of these issues is considered by the court during divorce proceedings, which is why it is important to have experienced legal representation defending your rights as your case is determined.

If you would like to know more about spousal maintenance or you are concerned the court might view your situation unfairly, contact Montgomery Little & Soran, PC at 303-773-8100.