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Walking Through The Maintenance Process.
Alimony and spousal support are known as “maintenance” in Colorado, and it can be one of the most complex issues in a divorce case. In 2014, Colorado enacted advisory maintenance guidelines that must be considered by the court. However, it is not required that the court follow the guidelines, and the guidelines only apply in certain circumstances.
How Support Is Determined
The guidelines only apply in marriages lasting at least three years and for couples who have a combined gross income of $240,000 per year or less. If your case falls outside of those parameters, the court will look to several statutory factors to determine whether maintenance would be appropriate in your case. Some of the statutory factors include the amount of each party’s gross income, the property apportioned to each party, the financial resources of each party and reasonable financial needs as established during the marriage. Because one of the factors the court will consider in determining maintenance is the property apportioned to each party, maintenance must be determined after the court apportions the marital property.
Even when the guidelines apply, the award of maintenance is in the court’s discretion, and that discretion will vary widely from judge to judge and jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Due to the discretionary nature of maintenance, we often look for creative ways to reduce maintenance or buy it out (divide property disproportionately rather than have a maintenance payment) when possible.
Beyond the complexities of how maintenance is determined by the court, even when the parties are in agreement with respect to maintenance, the way maintenance is addressed in a written agreement is crucial and the language can have far-reaching impacts. For example, in Colorado, it is possible for parties to agree in writing to contractual and nonmodifiable maintenance. Contractual maintenance cannot be ordered by the court, and when done properly, it cannot be modified by the court, either. Because the court loses jurisdiction when the parties agree to contractual maintenance, the language of an agreement for contractual maintenance is crucial.
We Can Help You Understand A Complex Alimony Case
When a spouse qualifies for a maintenance award, the spouse from whom maintenance is sought must also have the ability to meet his or her needs while assisting the other spouse.
When you are evaluating what role maintenance will play in your divorce case, the help of a skilled Colorado family lawyer is vital. At Litvak Litvak Mehrtens and Carlton, P.C., our lawyers will guide you through the process of divorce and all its complexities. Call 303-951-4506 to make an appointment.