Alimony, or spousal maintenance as it is called in Colorado, is a payment made by one spouse to the other after a divorce. Its primary purpose is to help lower-earning spouses maintain their standard of living after the divorce.
Contrary to popular belief, alimony is not automatic. The court will only award maintenance if it is necessary to meet the receiving spouse’s reasonable needs and reasonable standard of living.
What do courts consider when making alimony decisions?
The court will consider several factors to ensure alimony is truly necessary and deserved. For example, in marriages that only endured for a year or two, spousal maintenance may not be possible. However, if the marriage lasted for many years or decades, one spouse may have better odds of obtaining spousal maintenance.
Other factors include:
- Health and age of each spouse
- Earning capacity of each spouse
- Educational level and employment history of both spouses
- Contributions each spouse made to the marriage (homemaking, childrearing, etc.)
- Financial resources available to each spouse
- Needs of any dependent children
The amount of alimony and its duration will vary depending on the specific facts of each case. However, there is a statutory formula that Colorado courts use to calculate an advisory award of alimony.
- 40% of the gross monthly income of the higher-earning spouse
- Subtract 50% of the gross monthly income of the lower-earning spouse
The difference between these figures is typically the amount of maintenance awarded to the eligible spouse. However, courts may deviate from this formula if it finds there are special circumstances that warrant a different amount or duration.
If you are seeking alimony in your divorce, it is important to build a strong case for the court. Legal guidance may improve your chances of obtaining spousal maintenance.