How much Spousal Maintenance Will Be Awarded in your Divorce?
In general, Colorado law treats awards of spousal maintenance differently depending on the length of the marriage at issue and the income of each spouse. As a threshold matter, a court may award monthly maintenance to one spouse only if it finds that spouse lacks sufficient property, including marital property apportioned to him or her, to provide for his or her reasonable needs and is unable to support himself or herself through appropriate employment or is the custodian of a child whose condition or circumstances make it inappropriate for the spouse to be required to seek employment outside of the home.
If your marriage lasted less than three years, the court is not required to award any spousal maintenance, and courts rarely (if ever) do so.
If your marriage lasted between three and twenty years, Colorado law sets forth a recommended amount and duration of maintenance depending on the length of the marriage and the monthly adjusted gross incomes of each spouse. The statutory formula can be quite daunting to read, but don’t worry—it’s easy to calculate: add together each spouse’s monthly adjusted gross income, then multiply the result by 40%, and finally subtract from that the lower-earning spouse’s monthly adjusted gross income. This number is the recommended amount of maintenance to be paid by the higher-earning spouse to the lower-earning spouse per month. The recommended duration of the maintenance award ranges from 31% to 50% of the length of the marriage for marriages lasting between 3 and 12.5 years, and for marriages lasting between 12.5 and 20 years, the recommended duration is 50% of the length of the marriage. But it is important to remember that for any marriage lasting between 3 and 20 years, the court can deviate from the recommended amount and duration of the maintenance award based on any number of practical considerations (such as the distribution of marital property, the age and health of the parties, significant economic or noneconomic contribution to the marriage, etc.). This is where having an attorney to advocate for you can make a world of difference.
If your marriage lasted more than twenty years, the court may award maintenance either for a term of years or for an indefinite term, and the award duration is extremely unlikely to last less than ten years. Again, the court is free to decide the precise amount of the monthly maintenance award based on various practical considerations.
Finally, if both parties can agree on the terms of maintenance, they are free to contract on the issue. This can save parties a lot of time and money and is always recommended if feasible.
Please be advised that this Article only scratches the surface of the issue. Consult with an attorney before basing any decision on this summary.