Ground breaking legislation passed in 2014 which has provided Colorado divorcing couples with a formula for calculating spousal maintenance for the first time in the state’s history. Colorado instituted the guidelines with the goal of standardizing spousal maintenance payments. At question was how the state of Colorado could eliminate inconsistency in Colorado spousal maintenance orders and eliminate unpredictable awards.
Colorado is not alone. In fact experts have noticed a trend which they are calling a “national alimony reform movement.” This trend has moved through states such as Maine, Texas, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, and New Jersey. These states now also use formulas to calculate spousal support maintenance.
Colorado spousal maintenance formula
Colorado’s spousal maintenance formula has been two years in the making with efforts from a task force and judicial training to ensure its successful implementation. The task force created advisory guidelines which determine the duration and amount of support for marriages between three and twenty years, where the annual combined income does not exceed $240,000. The Colorado spousal maintenance formula was implemented on January 1, 2014, and has only been applied to cases filed after that date.
Colorado spousal maintenance guidelines not mandatory
Keep in mind, however, the Colorado spousal maintenance guidelines are not mandatory. Colorado judges can use the guidelines as a starting point to help them determine spousal support payments, but the final decision remains with the judge, who can use other factors such as the spouse’s property, other financial resources, and income to make their decision.
One year has passed since the implementation of the new guidelines, and there is not enough evidence to suggest if judges have accepted the guidelines, but proponents of the new law say it’s still a good thing. Proponents argue having an objective formula can help take the emotion out of the process and create fairness in Colorado, which has had dramatically different spousal support rulings from different districts.
Proponents are also encouraged that the new Colorado spousal support maintenance guidelines may help eliminate what experts call the cyclical nature of spousal support awards, where spousal support is much easier to get some times than others.
Judges may need help determining reasonable maintenance
Finally, proponents of the guidelines argue that some judges do not have enough background in family law to always know what how to determine reasonable spousal maintenance. For instance, if a spouse has worked for fifteen years and recently left the workforce, the judge may conclude they only need a few months to reenter the workforce, but there are other factors to consider.
Others argue the maintenance guidelines should allow for more successful mediation, reduce lawsuits, promote settlements, and help some families avoid poverty.
Divorce is hard on everyone, but it can be especially hard on women with families, who frequently see a substantial decline of their standard of living following a divorce. If Colorado spousal maintenance guidelines can help alleviate this problem, it is probably a good thing.
Talk to a Colorado divorce lawyer if you have questions about the Colorado spousal maintenance you may receive after a divorce.
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