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How is spousal maintenance calculated in Colorado?

Although two-income marriages are probably the norm nowadays, there are still many marriages in which one spouse stays at home to care for children, or in which the spouses both work but one earns significantly more than the other. Because spouse's finances are typically intermingled, divorce can be financially devastating for a spouse who was economically dependent on the other spouse during the marriage.

To alleviate this hardship, Colorado law has long provided for payment of spousal maintenance, commonly called alimony, when the circumstances justify it. But many believed awards of alimony were not consistent in different courts and judicial districts in the state, even in cases with similar facts. To address these inconsistencies, the Colorado Legislature amended the state's alimony statute last year, and established advisory guidelines for judges to follow in setting alimony payments. The new law became effective on Jan. 1 of this year.

Under the new alimony law, if the marriage lasted between three and 20 years, and the parties have a combined annual income of $240,000 or less, the recommended maintenance award is 40 percent of the higher-earning spouse's monthly income, minus 50 percent of the other spouse's monthly income. The award is capped at 40 percent of the parties' combined monthly incomes.

The court can make further adjustments based on both parties' financial resources, how property was divided in the divorce proceedings, the parties' lifestyle during the marriage, whether one spouse made significantly more income than the other during the marriage and the length of the marriage. The duration of the award will depend in large part on how long the marriage lasted.

The revised statute is still relatively new and this post cannot provide specific legal advice. A spouse requesting maintenance will need the advice and counsel of an experienced family law attorney.

Source: Colo. Rev. Stat. § 14-10-114, accessed Sept. 7, 2014

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