UPDATED COLORADO MAINTENANCE LAW
Effective 1/1/2014 Section 14-10-114 of Colorado Revised Statutes provides new statutory, advisory guidelines for Maintenance payments from one spouse to the other in marriages that are at least (3) years in duration. There are now numeric guidelines for the District Court to consider after determining a party is a candidate for Maintenance and prior to determining the amount and duration of the award.
The Statutory advisory guidelines for marriages of (3) years duration up to (20) years, where the combined adjusted gross incomes of the parties is $360,000 or less is: “equal to 40% of the higher income earner’s monthly adjusted gross income less 50% of the lower income earner’s monthly adjusted gross income” There is also a provision for a cap on Maintenance. The statute states “except that when the Maintenance is added to the gross income of the recipient, it shall not result in the recipient receiving in excess of 40% of the parties’ combined monthly gross income”.
For a (3) year marriage, the guidelines suggest payment of 31% of the marriage or (11) months. Each year of marriage the duration increases up to 50% at (20). Marriages of less than (3) and more than (20) years can still result in Maintenance awards. The duration guidelines do not apply to marriages under (3) years. For marriages over (20) years the court may award Maintenance for a specific term or for an indefinite term, but the term shall not be less than 50% of a (20) year marriage, (10 years) without making specific findings that support a reduced term of Maintenance.
For a (3) year marriage, the guidelines suggest payment for 31% of the marriage or (11) months. Each year of marriage the duration increases up to 50% at (20). Marriages of less than (3) and more than (20) years can still result in Maintenance awards. The duration guidelines don’t apply to marriages under (3) years. For marriages over (20) years the court may award Maintenance for a specific term or for an indefinite term, but the term shall not be less than 50% of a (20) year marriage, (10 years) without making specific findings that support a reduced term of Maintenance.
Q. Is it true. as my spouse says, that I leave the marriage with what I came into with – nothing?
A. Not likely. The length of your marriage and assets accumulated during the marriage are the key considerations.
How Can Maintenance Be Handled?
There are several ways Maintenance can be handled in dissolution. The most well-known is the periodic monthly payment. A “lump sum award” is when the spouse receiving the Maintenance takes the one payment to enable him or her to become self-supporting in lieu of monthly payments.
If the parties agree, they can have Contractual Maintenance. They contract through a Separation Agreement that one spouse will pay the other a set amount per month (which can vary) for a definite period of time. They can agree it would not be modifiable by the court.
Maintenance payments are generally tax deductible to the payor and includable as income and taxable to payee. There are exceptions; consult a lawyer.
Maintenance terminates with the death of the payee, or his or her remarriage or a Court Order or by agreement of the parties.
In any case where Maintenance is an issue or necessity it is important to have legal representation and guidance. As with all issues in divorce this one can be negotiated, mediated, arbitrated or handled collaboratively. Litigation is always an option. One reason it is important to have legal counsel, is that the case law is always changing and there is uncertainty with the interpretation of the new advisory Maintenance statute.
An experienced family law attorney should know the current case law as well as the differences in the various counties and court rooms a case might be heard in. Further, attorneys also will have information and experience with various mediators and/or arbitrators in particular locales. Should the maintenance case proceed collaboratively, you will be represented by a collaboratively trained attorney as will your spouse and the case will not resolve until both parties are satisfied that the resolution is fair.