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Spousal Maintenance Considerations

Updated: 05/04/2023

Est. Reading: 4 minutes

For couples going through a divorce, spousal maintenance, formerly called “alimony,” is often a concern that must be determined. Spousal maintenance is defined as a certain amount paid monthly by a spouse for a certain amount of time. When spousal maintenance is requested, the Court can either approve it, deny it, or reserve jurisdiction over the case if in the future a particular event would make the Court reconsider granting it.

Colorado law has specific “guidelines” and laws in granting spousal maintenance. Initially, when the divorce is declared at the final hearing, the Court must consider the following:

  • The amount of each party's gross income;
    (B) The marital property apportioned to each party;
    (C) The financial resources of each party, including but not limited to the actual or potential income from separate or marital property;
    (D) Reasonable financial need as established during the marriage; and
    (E) Whether maintenance awarded pursuant to this section would be deductible for federal income tax purposes by the payor and taxable income to the recipient.

Spousal Maintenance Attorney in Colorado Springs

After considering the necessary details for spousal maintenance, the Court will then look at the "guidelines" to determine the amount to be granted. Though the "guidelines" will help the judge determine the spousal maintenance amount, it is not mandatory. 14-10-114, C.R.S. specifies the guideline amounts, and anyone can look through it to know how much they should pay or receive. But again, these are just guidelines. They may not be the exact spousal maintenance amount as it can be changed.  This is because, by law, the Court must also look to other factors, specifically:

  • The financial resources of the recipient spouse, including the actual or potential income from separate or marital property or any other source and the ability of the recipient spouse to meet his or her needs independently;
    (II) The financial resources of the payor spouse, including the actual or potential income from separate or marital property or any other source and the ability of the payor spouse to meet his or her reasonable needs while paying maintenance;
    (III) The lifestyle during the marriage;
    (IV) The distribution of marital property, including whether additional marital property may be awarded to reduce or alleviate the need for maintenance;
    (V) Both parties' income, employment, and employability, obtainable through reasonable diligence and additional training or education, if necessary, and any necessary reduction in employment due to the needs of an unemancipated child of the marriage or the circumstances of the parties;
    (VI) Whether one party has historically earned higher or lower income than the income reflected at the time of permanent orders and the duration and consistency of income from overtime or secondary employment;
    (VII) The duration of the marriage;
    (VIII) The amount of temporary maintenance and the number of months that temporary maintenance was paid to the recipient spouse;
    (IX) The age and health of the parties, including consideration of significant health care needs or uninsured or unreimbursed health care expenses;
    (X) Significant economic or noneconomic contribution to the marriage or to the economic, educational, or occupational advancement of a party, including but not limited to completing an education or job training, payment by one spouse of the other spouse's separate debts, or enhancement of the other spouse's personal or real property;
    (XI) Whether the circumstances of the parties at the time of permanent orders warrant the award of a nominal amount of maintenance in order to preserve a claim of maintenance in the future;
    (XII) Whether the maintenance is deductible for federal income tax purposes by the payor and taxable income to the recipient, and any adjustments to the amount of maintenance to equitably allocate the tax burden between the parties; and
    (XIII) Any other factor that the court considers relevant.

The marriage of two parties can often result in financial disparity, as one becomes the breadwinner, and the life of the other one is focused on taking care of the family. Suppose one party has the ability and capacity to earn more money in the future due to education and work experience; in that case, the Court will consider this difference between Parties. On the other hand, if one party has better education, while the other sacrificed a considerable income potential for the family's sake, the Court will also likely take this into consideration.

The best way to know if a Court will grant spousal maintenance is to go through the two Sworn Financial Statements of the Parties, showing their monthly needs and assets. On the Sworn Financial Statement, a Party's capability to pay their monthly bills and the capacity of either Party to pay spousal maintenance through their earnings can be evaluated. The most significant feature of the Sworn Financial Statement is that it shows each Party's "needs." Needs are mainly the monthly amount required to meet the reasonable bills of a person's lifestyle. Not everyone is qualified to have a luxurious lifestyle or one they would hope to live, and "reasonable" does not mean excessive or wasteful. The Court will evaluate a person's needs and what they'll need each month to meet those needs. The Court will then ask if this person can support themselves independently (without spousal maintenance) based on their reasonable needs, as shown on the Sworn Financial Statement. If they can't, and the other Party can pay spousal maintenance and fulfill their own needs, it will likely be ordered.

Hire someone who takes your case seriously and has your family's best interest in mind. Jeanne M. Wilson's recent win of the 2019 Colorado Spring’s Style Magazine Top Attorneys award provides enough evidence to show you she is the right local spousal maintenance attorney for you. Give her a call today!

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