How spousal maintenance affects Colorado divorces

One major concern you might have about your life after divorce may be your ability to support yourself. You and your spouse might have had similar incomes. But your combined earning powers may have helped you establish a standard of living that you could lose once you split. And if your spouse’s income supported both of you, you will likely fear that you cannot make ends meet on your own. Yet, under Colorado’s spousal maintenance laws, you may be able to receive support while working to become self-sufficient

The duration and value of spousal maintenance

Colorado’s spousal maintenance laws apply to marriages that lasted between three and 20 years, in households with an annual gross income of $240,000 or less. If you and your spouse’s combined gross income exceeds this figure, a judge will award maintenance based on your unique marital and financial circumstances. Yet, if your marriage meets both criteria, state courts will follow these guidelines when making your award. Under them, you will receive maintenance for a percentage of your marriage’s length. Based on the state’s table, this will increase for every additional month you were married. If your marriage lasted for less than three years, it is unlikely you will receive maintenance. Yet, if your marriage lasted for over 20 years, you could receive long-term or indefinite maintenance.

The monthly value of your award will be 40% of you and your spouse’s combined gross monthly income minus your individual gross monthly income. You will not receive spousal maintenance if this number is negative. If your combined income is less than $10,000 per month, you will receive 80% of this initial value to account for your spouse’s tax burden. If your combined monthly income falls between $10,000 and $20,000 per month, you will receive 75% of this initial value instead.

Other factors that impact spousal maintenance

When making your spousal maintenance award, a judge will mainly focus on the length of your marriage and the disparity between you and your spouse’s incomes. Yet, they will consider any other relevant factors as well. These may include:

  • Your ability to make ends meet without spousal maintenance
  • Your spouse’s ability to pay spousal maintenance
  • Whether you or your spouse’s income is substantially higher or lower than at the date the judge awards spousal maintenance
  • Whether your spouse paid you temporary maintenance during your separation
  • Whether childcare or personal circumstances have affected your earning ability
  • You and your spouse’s economic and noneconomic contributions to your marriage

While state courts do not make automatic awards of spousal maintenance, it is often a part of many Colorado divorces. By understanding how the state’s laws work, you can take the steps to receive the support you need.