Alimony in Colorado is a lot like alimony in other states. We call it maintenance, but it’s the same principle: It’s money that one spouse pays the other so the receiving spouse can get back on his or her feet.
But how does alimony in Colorado work, and will you pay it or receive it?
Alimony in Colorado: How it Works
Alimony in Colorado can be a little complicated. For most people, it makes sense to work with an attorney who understands all its specifics. The law that governs alimony in Colorado – 14 C.R.S. 14-10-114 – requires courts to look at the combined annual gross income of both parties. That’s the money that both spouses make, together, before taxes each year.
The Formula for Couples Making Less Than $75,000 per Year
If a couple’s annual gross income is under $75,000, the court will follow a specific alimony formula.
This is how the court determines how much alimony – if any – should change hands:
40 percent of the higher income – 50 percent of the lower income = the award
However, the court will only award alimony if the difference doesn’t exceed 40 percent of the couple’s combined income.
Here’s how it works in real life. Let’s say the higher-earning spouse makes $50,000 per year and the lower-earning spouse makes $15,000 per year:
40 percent of $50,000 is $20,000. That’s the higher amount.
50 percent of $15,000 is $7,500. That’s the lower amount.
The couple’s combined income is $65,000.
40 percent of the couple's combined income is $26,000.
That means the difference doesn’t exceed 40 percent of the couple’s combined income, and the court can make an alimony award. The court will also consider the monthly adjusted gross income of each party when it makes a determination.
What if a Couple Makes More than $75,000 per Year?
If a couple makes more than $75,000 per year, alimony is a little different. The court will only decide to award alimony if it finds that:
- The spouse asking for alimony doesn’t have enough property (or money) to provide for his or her needs
- The spouse asking for alimony is unable to support him- or herself, or he or she has custody of a child that requires the person to stay home and not work
In a case like that, the court will decide how much alimony is appropriate based on several factors. The factors the judge will consider for alimony include:
- How long you were married
- Your ages
- Your physical and emotional conditions
- What standard of living you established during your marriage
- Your earning capacity
- How long it would take the asking party to get enough education or training to get a job
- How you divided your marital property
How Long Does Alimony Last in Colorado?
When you’re talking about how long alimony in Colorado lasts, it’s called duration of the award.
The duration of the award, in many cases, is 31 percent of the length of the marriage plus 1.17 percent for each month after 3 years. (This is where things can get a little complicated, but your lawyer will figure it out for you.)
However, in other cases – like for marriages that lasted more than 20 years – the court will determine the duration of the award based on other factors.
What if Your Spouse Cheated? Will Alimony Be Higher?
Under the law, alimony isn’t attached to marital misconduct. That means when it comes to awarding alimony, the court won’t take cheating into account. However, in some cases, the court can – like when your spouse cheated on you and spent all your family’s money on his or her new flame.
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Alimony in Colorado?
If you’re filing for divorce, or if your spouse has already filed, we can help you. We’ll be happy to answer your questions about alimony in Colorado, child support, custody and any other issues related to your divorce – and we’ll fight hard to make sure you’re treated fairly every step of the way.
Call us at 970-488-1887 for a free divorce consultation with a Fort Collins divorce lawyer right now.