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Comedian works overtime to pay alimony

Many Colorado readers will remember British comedian John Cleese from his days with Monty Python. A few years ago Cleese hit the road with a stand-up act and called it "The Alimony Tour." He wasn't being entirely tongue-in-cheek; according to Cleese, he has had to do a lot of extra work to make spousal support payments to his former wife.

Cleese, now 74, said in a recent interview that by the time he is done paying alimony his payments to his ex-wife will total $23 or $24 million. In order to make the payments he has had to sell five of his six real estate holdings. And he has had to continue working to earn enough to stay current.

Cleese and his third wife were divorced in 2008. Reports indicate the settlement provided for a $16 million up-front payment, in assets and cash, and almost $1 million annually until 2016.

Alimony, called maintenance in Colorado, is intended to help a former spouse get on their feet financially after being dependent on the other spouse's income. When one spouse has earned a big income, the payments can be correspondingly big.

Under Colorado's new alimony law, which took place at the beginning of the year, judges are given nonbinding guidelines to set the amount of the monthly payment. The formula begins by taking 40 percent of the higher-earning spouse's monthly earnings, then deducting 50 percent of the other spouse's monthly earnings. The number of years over which payments must be made is based on the length of the marriage.

Source: Huffington Post, "John Cleese's Alimony Payments Are No Laughing Matter," Jan. 31, 2014

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