By Jennifer A. Workman, Esq.
On January 1, 2014, Colorado will institute a change in maintenance (also known as alimony or spousal support) calculations. Colorado's state legislature, along with many other state legislatures, is seeking to reform alimony calculations in order to gain consistency and fairness among the support payments.
Prior to this change in the law, the determinations were made on a case-by-case basis. While there was pertinent case law to assist in maintenance determinations, some cases could consist of very similar fact patterns, but result in completely different support calculations. The new spousal support law will standardize the calculations similarly to child support calculations.
The new spousal maintenance guidelines will be applied to cases filed on or after January 1, 2014. The marriages that fall within the guidelines are marriages lasting at least three years with parties that have combined incomes of less than $240,000.00 per year. While Courts retain discretion in determining spousal maintenance, the guidelines will require the Court to make initial findings of fact with regard to each party's gross income, the marital property apportioned to each party, the financial resources of each party, and reasonable financial need.
The terms of spousal payments can range from 11 months (for a 3-year marriage) to maintenance payments extending indefinitely (for a marriage of more than 20 years).
The purpose of the spousal maintenance guidelines is to provide clarity to both parties and the Courts during domestic relations proceedings and may assist in a higher percentage of cases entering into settlement agreement at an earlier stage of the proceeding.
Moreover, individuals currently paying or receiving spousal maintenance may want to have their maintenance awards reviewed for modification purposes. If one's maintenance order deviates more than 10 percent from the spousal award under the new spousal maintenance guidelines, they may be interested in modifying their awards. While the court still has discretion regarding maintenance and domestic relations matters, they may be more inclined to modify a prior ruling if it is not in line with the new guidelines.
Please contact Feldmann Nagel's family law attorneys to discuss whether the January 1, 2014, spousal maintenance changes will impact your domestic relations matter.