New Colorado Divorce Law: Temporary Spousal Maintenance (Alimony)
first posted on: 4/2/2003
Effective April 30, 2002, the Colorado legislature created a formula for determining Colorado temporary spousal support or “maintenance.”
(The ordinary form of spousal support or maintenance — which is taxable to the receiving spouse or former spouse and deductible by the payor — is called “alimony” in the Federal Tax Code. See also, however, our blog article on Non-Taxable Spousal Maintenance, an often-misunderstood and sometimes valuable mediation and divorce planning tool.)
When This New Colorado Maintenance Divorce Law Applies
Importantly, this formula for Colorado maintenance only applies:
If maintenance is requested by one of the divorcing parties
To determine an amount while a Colorado divorce case is pending (this is called “temporary” maintenance as distinct from maintenance continuing after the divorce)
If the parties’ combined annual income is $75,000 or less
The new Colorado law does not govern maintenance awards for parties with combined annual incomes greater than $75,000. The law merely fixes, by formula, temporary maintenance for those parties within these income limits, who are unable to come to their own agreement regarding spousal support.
If the parties’ combined annual income is $75,000 or more, the ordinary approach of Colorado law to determining spousal maintenance applies. In this approach, the Colorado judge has considerable discretion to determine an appropriate amount, considering a number of statutory factors including:
Both parties’ financial circumstances
Their standard of living during the marriage
Their emotional and physical health
Their prior education, training, work experience and earning capacities.
The New Colorado Maintenance Law’s Formula
The new Colorado maintenance divorce law fixes temporary maintenance by the following formula:
40% of the higher income party’s adjusted gross incomeless
50% of the lower income party’s adjusted gross income
Certain adjustments are required for prior family support obligations, and no temporary maintenance is presumed if this formula results in a negative number.
The Colorado judge must order this amount when requested, unless he or she makes findings that this amount would be unfair (and giving specific reasons for ordering a different amount).
Colorado Maintenance Issues In Mediation
This new Colorado maintenance law still allows divorcing parties in mediation or otherwise to “waive” this formula approach to temporary Colorado maintenance, and to agree in writing to a different amount that seems best, given the circumstances of their family.
Moreover, mediating parties often focus their efforts on their final divorce agreements and decide not to submit to the court any agreements regarding temporary arrangements and support. (This can result in a more efficient conclusion of your Colorado divorce. However, there can be enforcement and security issues or tax circumstances which make court approval of temporary agreements desirable or essential to you and/or your spouse.)
If no temporary court orders are desired by the parties, this change in Colorado divorce law regarding temporary spousal maintenance may be of little importance.
Please carefully review the information at the disclaimer link below. This information is only an overview of this change to Colorado maintenance and divorce law. All Colorado divorce-related support matters, and especially spousal support or maintenance planning, are highly dependent on your family’s unique circumstances and should be carefully considered by you and/or your spouse with a Colorado divorce professional.
Also, see our other feature articles, where we discuss in detail other Colorado legal, procedural (including divorce law and family mediation) or parenting topics. Presently, we look in depth at: