What Are the Alimony Laws in Colorado?
In Colorado, alimony or spousal support may be awarded to either party based on the needs of the requesting spouse and the other’s ability to pay. In previous years, there were few legal guidelines for the court to follow in determining an alimony award, and decisions on whether it was justified were left largely to the judge’s discretion. Since that time, changes to the alimony laws in Colorado now provide a clear framework to help protect the interests of both parties involved. At Nicholas Family Law, our Denver divorce attorney represents high asset clients. In these situations, it is important to be aware of how changes in alimony laws might impact your divorce case.
Changes in Alimony Laws in Colorado
In 2013, the Denver Post reported on changes in Colorado alimony laws hailed as ground breaking and set to go into effect the following year. The changes stemmed from a national movement towards alimony reform. Around the country, state legislatures sought to either limit or standardize alimony awards by establishing legal guidelines rather than relying on the judge’s discretion, which often varied from case to case.
To prevent award outcomes from differing dramatically depending on where and before whom the case was heard, Colorado followed the trend. New maintenance formulas were created as advisory guidelines, impacting the amount and the duration of alimony payments in marriages lasting a period of between three and 20 years. While these changes apply mainly to cases in which combined annual income is $240,000 or less, these same guidelines are also likely to influence a judge’s decision in alimony proceedings involving higher incomes and greater amounts of marital property and assets.
Guidelines for Alimony in Denver
Under Section 14-10-114 of the Colorado Dissolution of Marriage Act, the court may order payments of spousal maintenance and support in cases of divorce, legal separation, or when the marriage itself has been declared invalid. The award is intended to be for a period of time and in an amount that is reasonable and fair to both parties. Factors the judge will consider in making this decision include the following:
- The length of the marriage;
- The amount of gross income and potential future earnings of each party;
- Each spouse’s individual financial resources through separate or marital property they possess.
- The reasonable needs of the party seeking alimony, based on the standard of living during the marriage.
While marital misconduct is not a factor in Colorado divorce or alimony proceedings, it could influence the amount a spouse is entitled to if their partner depleted resources in support of an affair or an alcohol, gambling, or drug habit. Any career or educational sacrifices either of the spouses made in support of the other or of the marriage would also likely be a consideration.
Reach Out to Our Denver Divorce Attorney
To discuss whether alimony may be an issue in your specific situation, reach out and contact our Denver divorce attorney. We can arrange a confidential, one on one consultation, to advise you on your rights and the best course of action in your case.