Colorado Spousal Maintenance Guide
Spousal maintenance, also known as alimony, is a financial obligation that one spouse may be required to pay the other after divorce or separation.
In Colorado, this is called spousal maintenance or simply “maintenance.”
Following is an overview of how spousal maintenance works in Colorado and what you need to know if you are going through a divorce.
What is Spousal Maintenance?
Spousal maintenance is a payment one former spouse pays to the other following a divorce. It’s designed to ensure the basic financial needs of a disadvantaged spouse are met post-divorce. However, only some qualify for it.
Eligibility for Spousal Maintenance in Colorado
When considering whether a spouse is eligible for maintenance, Colorado courts will consider the following:
- Financial Resources of the Claiming Spouse: Whether the spouse requesting maintenance can provide for their own needs independently, considering the property apportioned to the spouse.
- Marital Lifestyle: The standard of living established during the marriage.
- Duration of the Marriage: The length of the marriage can influence the amount and duration of maintenance. Generally, longer marriages lead to more extended periods of maintenance.
- Physical and Emotional Condition: Age, physical health, and emotional state of the spouse seeking maintenance.
- Economic Disparities: The ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet their needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance.
- Division of Marital Property: How the marital property has been divided can influence the need for maintenance.
- Both Parties’ Income, Employment, and Employability: This includes any necessary education or training to increase the earning potential of the spouse seeking maintenance.
- Historical Roles: Whether the claiming spouse has been out of the working world for a significant period because they were taking care of a home or children and, therefore, might have diminished earning potential.
- Contribution of the Claiming Spouse: Any contributions by the spouse seeking maintenance to the career or education potential of the other spouse.
- Economic or noneconomic contribution to the family includes contributions as a homemaker.
- Property Awarded to the Claiming Spouse: Any increase or decrease in the value of the separate property of the spouse seeking maintenance during the marriage or the depletion of its separate property for marital purposes.
How is Spousal Maintenance Calculated?
Colorado spousal support (or spousal maintenance) is determined using guidelines provided by the state. Here’s how the guideline works:
- Calculation of Amount:
- For couples with a combined annual gross income of $240,000 or less, the suggested monthly maintenance amount is calculated by taking 40% of the higher-income party’s monthly adjusted gross income and subtracting 50% of the lower-income party’s monthly adjusted gross income.
If Party A earns $5,000 a month and Party B earns $2,000 a month: Maintenance Amount = (0.40 x $5,000) – (0.50 x $2,000) = $2,000 – $1,000 = $1,000/month
Calculation of Duration:
- The guideline duration varies depending on the length of the marriage. Here’s a general breakdown (though note the exact months can be more nuanced and can change):
- Maintenance could be 11% of the marriage duration for a marriage lasting one year.
- For a marriage lasting 20 years or longer, maintenance could last indefinitely or at least for a period determined by the Court.
- Suppose the combined annual gross income of the parties is more significant than $240,000. In that case, the guidelines might not apply, and the Court would determine maintenance based on factors like the standard of living during the marriage, both parties’ financial resources, and the requesting party’s needs.
- The Court can adjust the guideline amount or duration based on various factors, such as the financial resources of each party, marital property, and financial responsibility for children.
- The maintenance amount might be reduced or eliminated if both parties have roughly equal incomes or if the recipient’s income is higher.
- Gross income does not include child support payments from a prior relationship, certain types of public assistance, or other sources.
- The guideline amount can be adjusted downward if there are children and child support is being paid.
It’s important to understand that these are guidelines, and the Court has discretion. The actual amount and duration of maintenance can vary based on the specifics of each case.
Understanding spousal maintenance can be complicated, but it’s crucial for anyone divorcing in Colorado to speak with a highly experienced spousal support lawyer first.
Colorado Springs residents seeking to ensure their rights and financial futures are well-protected in spousal support claims need look no further than Patricia Perello. With her unparalleled expertise, compassionate approach, and unwavering commitment to her clients, she’s the ally you need during this crucial legal process. Call today for a free consultation.