Fort Collins Spousal Maintenance Attorney
Trust Your Alimony Case to Levi A. Brooks, Attorney at Law
Spousal maintenance is a person’s legal obligation to provide financial assistance to their former spouse. Sometimes you may hear it called alimony or spousal support, but in Colorado, the legal term is “spousal maintenance.”
The goal of spousal maintenance is to assist the spouse who is unable to fully support themselves during and after a divorce. The party providing the financial assistance must have the means to do so. Lives become intertwined during a marriage, with each spouse contributing to the household in their own way. For example, one spouse may have advanced his or her career while the other spouse took care of the house and children. Spousal maintenance helps level the playing field after divorce.
As a skilled spousal maintenance lawyer in Fort Collins, I am here to help you navigate any disputes that arise during your divorce regarding alimony. You deserve high-quality representation during this difficult time – and you can count on me to represent you effectively.
History of Spousal Maintenance in Colorado
Before 2014, there was very little guidance given to the Colorado courts on the issue of spousal maintenance. All the statute provided was a long list of factors that the courts should base their determination on, but there was not a starting place or baseline. This resulted in courts giving significantly different rulings based on very similar facts. There was little consistency between maintenance judgments made in Fort Collins and rulings made in other parts of Colorado.
Spousal Maintenance Guidelines
The Colorado legislature recognized that there was a lack of guidance and in 2014, they passed legislation laying out a formula to give courts a starting point when ruling on spousal maintenance. The formula only applies to marriages that lasted at least three years and where the parties’ combined income is $240,000/year or below (or does not exceed the uppermost limits of the schedule of basic child support obligations).
The two most important factors that the calculation considers are each spouse’s gross annual income and the duration of the marriage. The formula works to create a situation where the lower-earning spouse has approximately 40% of the total combined income. In other words, after the maintenance award is added to the lower-earning spouse’s income, the lower-earning spouse has 40% of the total income.
Example: Stacy earns a gross income of $12,000/month and Peter earns $6,000/month.
- $12,000 + $6,000 = $18,000 (Add both parties’ income)
- $18,000 x 0.40 = $7,200 (Multiply by 40%)
- $7,200 – $6,000 = $1,200 (Deduct the lower income from the 40%)
In this example, Stacy would pay Peter $1,200/month in spousal maintenance.
The calculation is only a starting point that the courts can use as a guideline. The court will not blindly accept the formula amount, and they can award spousal maintenance either lower or higher than the calculated amount. The court will consider any circumstance that would create a hardship or unfair situation.
Factors that the court will consider include:
- Each spouse’s financial resources
- The lifestyle during the marriage
- The distribution of marital income
- The amount and term of temporary maintenance
- Whether one party has historically earned more income
- The amount of income that is the result of secondary employment or overtime
- The age and health of the parties
- Significant economic or non-economic contribution to the marriage
- Any other factor that the court considers relevant
The court will not consider any marital misconduct (e.g., abuse, infidelity, or abandonment) when determining the spousal maintenance award.
How Long Must You Pay Spousal Maintenance?
The length of time that a spouse must pay maintenance primarily depends on the length of the marriage. The longer that you and your spouse were married, the longer the term of maintenance. The court can even award indefinite support if the marriage lasted longer than 20 years, though this is rare.
The court can modify or terminate maintenance payments if there is a significant change in circumstances. The court will not consider the marital misconduct of a party.
Waiver of Spousal Maintenance
The parties may agree to waive spousal maintenance. If a party is unrepresented, the court will not approve a waiver of maintenance unless the unrepresented party indicates that they are aware of the statute laying out the guidelines.
Unemployed or Underemployed Spouse
If a party is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, maintenance will be calculated on the party’s potential income.
A party’s potential income will not be used if the party is:
- Physically or mentally disabled
- Caring for a child under 30 months
- Incarcerated and sentenced to a year or more
A spouse is not considered “underemployed” if:
- The spouse’s employment is temporary and his/her income is expected to increase
- The spouse’s employment is a good faith career choice
- The spouse is enrolled in an educational program that will result in a higher income
Call Levi A. Brooks, Attorney at Law
If you are considering a divorce, you should be sure to retain a local Fort Collins spousal maintenance attorney as soon as possible. I have 15 years of experience to put to work for you and would be happy to answer your questions about alimony.