Maintenance, which is also known as alimony or spousal support, is designed to temporarily assist one party in a divorce that is unable to fully support him or herself. While maintenance may be awarded in a divorce case, it is by no means a right, and the court may choose to deny maintenance if it finds that maintenance is not necessary.
Determining When Maintenance Is Appropriate in Colorado
In Colorado, pursuant to 14 C.R.S. 14-10-114, the court makes a different determination for Fort Collins CO alimony based on the combined annual gross income of the parties. If the combined annual gross income of the parties is less than $75,000, then the court will follow a formula, taking into account the respective monthly adjusted gross income of each party.
If, on the other hand, the annual gross income of the parties is more than $75,000, then the court will make an alimony or maintenance determination only if it finds two things. First, the court must find that the spouse seeking maintenance lacks sufficient property to provide for his or her needs. Second, the spouse seeking maintenance must either be unable to support him or herself, or has custody of a child whose condition or circumstance would require the spouse to remain home. If the court finds that an award of maintenance is appropriate, the court will determine the amount and duration of the alimony based on several factors, including:
- The length of the marriage
- The age and condition (both physical and emotional) of both parties
- The standard of living enjoyed by both parties during the time of the marriage
- The respective earning capacity of each party
- The time necessary to obtain sufficient education or training in order to obtain gainful employment
- The division of the marital property in the divorce
While the primary concern with alimony or maintenance determination in Fort Collins is whether a party is able to support him or herself, this doesn’t mean that a party will be precluded from maintenance simply because of education level. For example, if one party held a degree, but left the job market in order to care for the home, then the judge may find that an award of maintenance would be appropriate.
In addition to allowing for maintenance, the court also allows for the modification of a maintenance order. This is allowed when there has been a material change in circumstances, such as when the supporting party has a reduced earning capacity. While a court will consider any reduced earning capacity when modifying an order for maintenance, it will not allow modification in cases where the supporting party intentionally reduced his or her earning capacity. For example, if the supporting party quit his or her job willingly, and refused to obtain another job, the court could uphold the maintenance based on what the supporting spouse was expected to earn. If, on the other hand, the supporting party lost his or her job due to no fault of the supporting party, then the court would allow for modification.
To discuss the Colorado alimony and maintenance determination and modification process in Fort Collins and surrounding communities with an experienced family lawyer, contact The Cossitt Law Firm. We will be happy to answer any questions and discuss your case during an initial consultation.