Colorado Springs Spousal Maintenance Lawyer
Serving Families Throughout Pueblo and the Denver Metro Area Since 1971
About Spousal Maintenance in Colorado
Spousal support, which was formerly referred to as alimony and is now referred to in Colorado as spousal maintenance, has the purpose of enabling a spouse who has become economically dependent during a marriage to support himself or herself in the wake of a divorce. It is normally awarded on a temporary basis with respect to the amount of time expected to be necessary to acquire education or training to seek suitable employment.
Courts in Colorado have some specific guidance in making decisions about spousal maintenance. The amount of maintenance is typically set to be great enough to allow the recipient to continue to enjoy an acceptable standard of living while not placing undue strain on the spouse who is ordered to pay. Under state law, spousal support depends on the combined annual gross income of the spouses.
How is Spousal Maintenance Awarded?
A court may order that “spousal maintenance” be paid to a spouse that needs support by the other spouse who has the ability to pay support. A court may award maintenance only if it finds that the "seeker" has little to no property (marital or not) to provide for their accepted standard of living, and is unable to support themselves through regular employment, or if the requesting spouse is the primary custodian of a child whose health make it unreasonable for them to leave their home for lengths at a time, such as for a job.
How Long Does Spousal Maintenance Last?
Maintenance can be ordered to be paid while the dissolution proceedings are pending (“temporary maintenance”) or as part of the permanent orders of dissolution, or both. In deciding the amount and length of spousal maintenance, the court is directed to weigh any pertinent aspects of the marriage and divorce, including: the finances of the requesting spouse, the income of the payor spouse, standard of living during the marriage, whether marital property could be distributed to eliminate some need for maintenance, the employment or employment opportunities of both parties, and the age and health of the parties.
Spousal Maintenance Must Be Beneficial to Both Parties
Awarded maintenance must be a total sum that persists for a set duration that is beneficial or non-damaging to both parties. It may be ordered regardless of marital “misconduct.” It is available in all marital dissolution (divorce) actions, as well as in cases of separation – court-controlled or otherwise. Before a court orders spousal maintenance, it will look at the amount of each party’s gross income, the relative division of marital property, and the monetary requirements of the spouse who requests maintenance.
An experienced Colorado Springs divorce lawyer can fight for fair spousal support on your behalf, or to prevent you from having to pay an unreasonable amount of alimony. Call today at (719) 602-5888!
Requirements for Spousal Maintenance
Maintenance may be ordered by the court if a marriage is of at least 3 years in duration and if the parties’ collective yearly adjusted gross income does not exceed either $240,000 or the maximum limitations of the schedule of child support. In any event, the requesting spouse cannot receive more than 40% of the parties’ combined monthly adjusted gross income.
In marriages of less than 20 years duration, maintenance will be ordered to be paid for a defined period of time. For example, if a marriage was 3 years in duration, absent extraordinary circumstances, the court will award maintenance payments for no more than 11 months after the dissolution is final. On the other hand, when the duration of the parties’ marriage exceeds 20 years, the court may ward maintenance for a certain amount of years—or for a term that never ends unless acted upon by other influences.
Combined Income of $75,000 or Less
If you and your spouse earn $75,000 or less in gross income on a yearly basis, then the court is directed by default to use an established formula to calculate the amount of maintenance that is to be paid. The amount is calculated by subtracting 50% of the income of the spouse who earns less from 40% of the income of the spouse who earns the larger paycheck. For example, if you earn $1,800 per month and your spouse earns $4,000, the calculation would be $1,600 minus $900, which equals a monthly payment of $700 — nearly half of the lower-earning spouse's income. If the calculation results in zero or a figure less than zero, support will not be awarded.
Combined Income Greater than $75,000
In the event that your combined annual gross income is in excess of the $75,000 threshold, the court may award a temporary order of spousal support. This is done in cases in which the recipient lacks sufficient property and assets to provide for his or her reasonable needs and cannot immediately achieve self-sufficiency through employment or is required to stay home to care for a child.
Factors that are considered when deciding the amount of maintenance include the following:
- The duration of the marriage
- The amount of time required before the recipient can acquire training or education necessary to find suitable employment
- The standard of living established during the course of the marriage
- The age and physical condition of the party requesting maintenance
- The ability of the paying spouse to support himself or herself while meeting the payment obligation
How Can I Avoid Paying Spousal Maintenance?
The “payor spouse” cannot avoid the obligation of supporting the requesting spouse just by voluntarily avoiding employment, or engaging in employment that is obviously beneath the spouse’s education and qualifications. On the other hand, the payor spouse will not be considered to be “underemployed” if the employment is temporary and is reasonably intended to result in a higher income within the foreseeable future, or the “under” employment is a “good faith career choice” or if the payor spouse is enrolled in an educational program that is reasonably intended to result in a degree or certification within a reasonable period of time that will result in a higher income.
Retain a Skilled Colorado Springs Spousal Support Lawyer
While these are the general guidelines for establishing payment of alimony, it is possible to introduce evidence that can influence the outcome of the decision based on extenuating circumstances.
The law of spousal maintenance is complex and can be confusing, or even contradictory. Spousal maintenance issues can be emotionally charged, making agreement difficult. If spousal maintenance is a potential part of a divorce proceeding, it is good to have the expertise of experienced family law attorneys, such as those at Clawson & Clawson LLP on your side. Attorneys experienced in spousal maintenance issues advise their clients as to all the options available in a marital dissolution action and will make sure that the maintenance awards are, indeed, “fair and equitable.”
Learn more about the subject and find out what is likely to happen in your own divorce by contacting a Colorado Springs divorce attorney at Clawson & Clawson, LLP for a free consultation.
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