Like property, parties can agree on how much spousal maintenance should be paid from one spouse to the other and how long it will continue. If spouses can’t agree, they’ll end up in court, and a judge will decide for them.
In Colorado, a court can order one spouse (“paying spouse”) to pay temporary spousal maintenance to a lower-earning or unemployed spouse (“supported spouse”) during the divorce proceeding. Colorado courts use a formula based on income to calculate temporary maintenance.
Courts can also order longer-term maintenance awards. These awards are paid after the divorce is final. To qualify for longer-term of maintenance, the supported spouses must show that they don’t have enough income or assets to support themselves. They must also show that they can’t become self-supporting right away (for example they don’t have the job skills necessary to earn an income that will cover living expenses, or they’re caring for young children, and the cost of child care outweighs the benefit of working outside of the home). If a supported spouse qualifies, a court will consider the following factors before issuing a longer-term award:
- the supported spouse’s age, health, and financial resources
- the supported spouse’s earning capacity (potential income based on job history, education, skills and local employment opportunities)
- the paying spouse’s ability to pay alimony
- the length of the marriage, and
- the standard of living established during the marriage.
Colorado recently developed a formula for spousal maintenance to standardize maintenance planning. This guideline and formula impacts couples that have a gross income of less than $240,000 per year and have been married between three and 20 years. However, there are multiple factors that can also impact that calculation. Recent laws changed the tax on spousal maintenance as well. This will change the landscape for the amounts in consideration during the trials. Many family law and divorce law attorneys will guide you in establishing a maintenance agreement.
Contact our office to set up a consultation with one of our family law attorneys.