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Maintenance - Alimony for Colorado Divorce


Summary:   Make sure that you consider whether temporary maintenance (alimony) may be provided, and whether or not the formula applies. Permanent maintenance can be for a limited time period, or it may continue until the court modifies it, or the death of a party or remarriage of the recipient.


Maintenance (Alimony) in Colorado

Colorado law does allow judicial discretion to order the payment of maintenance to a spouse ( formerly called alimony.) The court may grant maintenance if one spouse lacks sufficient property to provide for his or her "reasonable needs" or cannot obtain "appropriate employment" to provide sufficient income for self-support. Another consideration is the care of a child with a disability such that employment outside of the home is not practical.

"Reasonable needs" takes into account the economic circumstances and the standard of living during the marriage. It is generally more than a bare bones living.

A typical application is where one of the spouses has been staying at home to care for young children and cannot enter the job market with sufficient skills to earn a livable income.

As a practical matter, maintenance is usually NOT awarded where both spouses have been working and able to provide their own support or where the non-working spouse is able to find suitable employment.

Maintenance payments are tax deductible to the payor and must be listed as taxable income to the payee.

Temporary Maintenance Example

Temporary maintenance may be ordered by the court if the parties are not living together.

As of July 2001, a new Colorado statute now provides a formula for calculating temporary maintenance. This is for the time period after the filing of the divorce petition and before permanent orders. This assumes that the husband and wife live apart. It provides that there is a presumption that temporary maintenance shall be paid if the combined incomes of both parties is less than $75,000. Adjustments must be made for any existing obligations for other maintenance received or paid and for child support paid for children not of the marriage.

The formula is: 40% of higher income, less 50% of the lower income.

For example, if one spouse earns $3,500/month and the other spouse earns $1,500/month, then under the statutory calculation, the spouse with the higher income would pay the other spouse $650/month.

The Court may deviate from the formula if its application would be inequitable or unjust.

If the combined income exceeds $75,000, the Court may use the factors listed in CRS 14-10-114.

Temporary maintenance begins at the latest of:

1. Date of physical separation;

2. Date of filing of the petition for divorce; or

3. Date of service on the respondent.

Permanent Maintenance

Permanent maintenance usually begins at the time that the divorce Decree is signed by the Court.

Generally the maintenance order will remain in effect for a specific time period or until the remarriage of the obligee or death of either spouse. Unless the court orders that maintenance remain in effect beyond death or orders that life insurance be carried.

Except that the court may modify a maintenance order whenever there is a change of circumstances which are substantial and continuing such that the existing order is unfair.

D. Enforcement of Payment

Similar to the enforcement of child support, any arrears for maintenance is an automatic judgment. The judgment can be used to levy on any property of the obligor.

A contempt of court action can be brought for the failure to pay maintenace or child support.

The obligor's income may also be assigned so that maintenance is deducted from his or her paychecks. A QDRO can also be used.

All payments should now go through the State Support Registry. Beginning in 2002, the Colorado Support Registry now processes payments for maintenance only. Prior to that time, it would process maintenance payments only there was also an accompanying child support order.

GIF The material on this web site is for informational purposes only. This law firm practices only in Colorado. An attorney-client relationship is established only when an agreement as to the scope of representation and fees has been signed and a retainer paid. Colorado law may consider these web site materials to be attorney advertising. GIF
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