Colorado Spousal Maintenance and Alimony
In any divorce, legal separation, or annulment case, the court will decide whether one spouse should be awarded monthly payments. These monthly payments are referred to as maintenance in Colorado (or alimony in other states). The payments are intended to assist a spouse who may not be able to financially provide for themselves immediately following the split. The court will not award maintenance in every case. The judge will look at a number of factors to determine whether a spouse should be awarded maintenance or not.
Typically, longer marriages are more likely to result in maintenance awards than shorter marriages. For example, if a couple is married for over twenty years, then it is very likely that the court will order that one party owes the other maintenance. When the couple has been married for over twenty years, it is even possible for one party to be awarded lifetime maintenance. However, there is not a minimum number of years that the couple must be married before a party receives maintenance.
In almost all divorce, legal separation, or annulment cases in Colorado, there is a presumption for temporary maintenance if the couple’s combined gross annual income is less than $75,000. The judge will award one party temporary maintenance equivalent to 40% of the higher income earner’s monthly income minus 50% of the lower income earner’s monthly income. If the couple’s combined gross annual income is more than $75,000, then there is not a presumption for temporary maintenance.
The following is a list of factors the court may consider when determining if a party will owe maintenance and how much:
- The financial resources of the party seeking maintenance;
- Whether the party seeking maintenance is pursuing a training or education program that will allow them to reach their full earning capacity;
- How long that training or education will take;
- The standard of living the couple experienced during the marriage;
- The length of the marriage;
- The age, mental capacities, and physical capacities of the party seeking maintenance; and
- The financial resources of the party from which maintenance is sought.
The judge will consider any or all of these factors when determining if and how much maintenance will be awarded. It truly depends on the judge in the case as to how the petition for maintenance will turn out.
Also, if one of the parties is not fully or gainfully employed, then the court may impute, or estimate, an income onto that party. This prevents either party from failing to obtain employment in order to be awarded maintenance.
It is important to note that, by law, the court may not consider marital misconduct when determining if and how much maintenance will be awarded.