Like other states, Colorado allows its judges who are hearing family law matters to award spousal maintenance, which commonly gets referred to as alimony, to one of the spouses who are getting divorced or permanently separated.
However, Colorado law is relatively unique among the states in that it sets out detailed guidelines as to how much spousal maintenance a court can award and for how long.
Basically, courts have the authority to award spousal maintenance in order to make sure that both spouses can leave a marriage, whether through a divorce, a legal separation or annulment, with adequate financial security and support relative to the other spouse.
As such, a court will consider how much income each spouse will be able to make on his or her own as well as who is receiving what with respect to marital property. The court may also consider whether either spouse will have other sources of income and if either spouse has any sort of special financial need.
Assuming that an award of spousal maintenance is appropriate, the judge will then order an amount consistent with Colorado's guidelines. This amount is based on the adjusted gross income of both spouses.
In Colorado, alimony is typically not awarded indefinitely. Instead, depending on the length of the marriage, the court will award maintenance for up to half the duration of a couple's marriage.
By way of example, a spouse that was married for three years, or 36 months, may under the guidelines receive 11 months of maintenance. A spouse married for at least 150 months, that is, 12.5 years, will receive maintenance for half the duration of the marriage, which, at a minimum, is 75 months.
Colorado's maintenance statutes are detailed. Moreover, a spouse who wishes to receive maintenance, or avoid paying it, will need to present appropriate evidence to the court. A person in the Denver area with issues related to spousal maintenance may wish to speak to an experienced family law attorney.