How Is Spousal Maintenance Calculated in Colorado?
“Spousal maintenance” is money paid by one former spouse to another following a dissolution of marriage (i.e., divorce), legal separation, or declaration of invalidity proceeding. Before January 1, 2014, Colorado law provided little guidance to the courts on how to calculate spousal maintenance. This resulted in inconsistencies in the amounts and terms of maintenance awarded across the state in cases involving similar factual circumstances. Under pressure to create a more detailed framework for calculating maintenance fairly and equitably, the Colorado legislature passed Colorado Revised Statutes § 14-10-114. Effective as of January 1, 2014, these advisory guidelines on the amount and term of maintenance awards assist the court and the parties in crafting maintenance awards that are fair, equitable, and more consistent across Colorado’s judicial districts. These maintenance guidelines only apply to parties with a combined gross income of $240,000 or less and with a marriage lasting at least three years. However, Colorado courts have discretion to award maintenance in marriages lasting less than three years.
Under these guidelines, when a party requests maintenance, Colorado courts make findings concerning the following factors:
1. the amount of each party’s gross income;
2. the marital property apportioned to each party;
3. the financial resources of each party, including but not limited to the actual or potential income from separate or marital property; and
4. reasonable financial need as established during the marriage.
After making these findings, Colorado courts then determine the amount and time length of maintenance by considering the following factors:
1. the guidelines for the term and amount of maintenance, as set forth in the statute;
2. the financial resources of the spouse receiving maintenance;
3. the financial resources of the spouse paying maintenance;
4. the lifestyle during the marriage;
5. the distribution of marital property;
6. the income, employment, and employability of both parties;
7. the historical income of a party;
8. the duration of the marriage;
9. the amount and length of temporary maintenance;
10. the age and health of the parties;
11. significant contribution to the marriage or to the advancement of a party;
12. whether the parties’ circumstances warrant a nominal amount of maintenance; and
13. any other factor the court deems relevant.
The formula for calculating the amount of maintenance under these guidelines is 40% of the higher earner’s monthly adjusted gross income minus 50% of the lower earner’s monthly adjusted gross income. After the maintenance amount is added to the recipient’s income, the amount may be reduced if the recipient does not receive more than 40% of the combined income.
The length of maintenance depends on the length of the marriage. At three years of marriage, the guideline duration is 31% of length of the marriage. At five years of marriage, the guideline duration is 35% of the length of the marriage. At eight years of marriage, the guideline duration is 40% of the length of the marriage. At 12 ½ years of marriage and beyond, the guideline duration is 50% of the length of the marriage.
If you are in the difficult position of considering divorce, contact us to discuss the impact of this law on you and your family.