Understanding Spousal Support In Colorado

A dissolution can result in many different orders, including property division, parenting time, child support, as well as spousal support.

In fact, in the State of Colorado, in legal separation and dissolution cases, Colorado courts have the authority to order one spouse alimony, more commonly known as spousal support or maintenance.

What Is Spousal Maintenance Or Support?

The purpose of spousal support or maintenance is to help a spouse who does not have the means to provide for his or her reasonable needs and is similarly not able to support himself or herself through employment once a marriage ends.

Maintenance is not an automatic right, however. Under C.R.S. 14-10-114, courts look at a variety of factors, including what the parties’ standard of living was at the time of marriage and the other spouse’s ability to pay for maintenance before ruling on whether it is appropriate. No set standard exists, and courts will order it on a case by case basis, depending on the facts at hand.

Temporary Colorado Maintenance Law

The State of Colorado does have a presumed level of temporary maintenance in situations where a couple’s combined gross annual income falls under $75,000 and the marriage is greater than 36 months.

Unless a party is able to present evidence showing a different amount is required, at a temporary orders hearing, the court will normally award maintenance equal to what 40 percent of the higher income earning spouse’s gross monthly income was, minus 50 percent of the lower income earning spouse’s gross monthly wage. Keep in mind that this order is temporary.

If the couple had a combined gross annual income above the $75,000 amount, the state does not set a standard for temporary alimony. Instead, courts use the factors that are normally considered when determining post-dissolution maintenance in creating the temporary order.

Permanent Maintenance

The law does not provide an exact formula for determining how much maintenance should be ordered at the end of a dissolution proceeding. Instead, many factors are considered, including:

  • The financial resources of the spouse who is seeking maintenance, including marital property and the spouse’s ability to meet his or her financial needs independently;
  • The time needed to allow for the spouse to get sufficient education or training to find appropriate employment;
  • The standard of living the parties enjoyed during the marriage;
  • How long the parties were married;
  • The age of the spouse seeking maintenance, as well as his or her physical and emotional condition; and
  • The flexibility the spouse who will end up paying maintenance has to meet his or her needs while meeting those of the spouse who is seeking maintenance.

As can be predicted, maintenance orders are done on a case-by-case basis. It depends on the court and on the judge. Some judges do not prefer to award maintenance but rather will divide the marital property in such a way to help the spouse who does not have the higher income-earning job.

One thing that is not considered, however, is fault. Since Colorado is a no-fault dissolution state, maintenance determinations are also made without any regard to misconduct during the marriage.

Underemployed Spouse

It is possible that one spouse was not fully and gainfully employed during the marriage, may have chosen to stay home to raise the children, may have worked part-time or may simply not be able to earn the same level of income as the other spouse. It happens more often than not.

In these situations, the court considers whether to impute the minimum wage to the non-working spouse or whether to impute something higher when determining a maintenance award. Imputing income means that the spouse is said to earn something different than what he or she actually earns.

Whether or not to impute income depends on many factors, including expectations set during the marriage, whether a spouse could be earning more, and other factors.

Termination Of Maintenance

Maintenance can be issued temporarily, and many times, a dissolution order will give a set time limit for how long maintenance is to last. For example, if maintenance or support is meant to give the spouse enough time to get education or training, the order might end within a couple of years.

At the latest, maintenance will be terminated upon the death of one of the spouses or the remarriage of the spouse who is receiving the spousal support.

Call Kelli J Malcolm Today

Divorce is complicated and can be a stressful matter for anyone, and we are here to help you through the process. Call the Law Offices of Kelli J Malcolm today for your free 30 minute phone consultation at 720-261-7287.

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