In some divorces, one party has a much higher income and capability to bring in money than the other. This may involve one parent who forgoes a job outside the home to take care of the children and then has a hard time finding employment after divorce. That is what spousal maintenance is designed to fix. You may not have ever heard of spousal maintenance, but you’ve probably heard the term alimony before ”“ it’s the same thing.
Not every divorcee qualifies for spousal maintenance, which can be temporary or “permanent” depending on the court’s opinion of both divorcees’ needs. We say “permanent” because only rarely is maintenance indefinite; it is seen largely as a way for the lower earner to get back on his or her feet after a divorce, although in some cases permanent alimony can be granted.
Colorado employs a specific formula for temporary maintenance for couples with a combined income of $75,000 or less. The formula is that the higher earner pays 40 percent of his or her monthly adjusted gross income minus 50 percent of the lower earner’s monthly adjusted gross income. Of course, the formula can be adjusted depending on the couple’s needs, the judge’s opinion and how property is being divided between the spouses.
For couples making more than $75,000, the judge can still award temporary maintenance to the lower earner, and regardless of individual income, the court can grant “permanent” maintenance depending on whether the lower earner is able to work or is receiving less marital property in the settlement.
As for how much spousal support the court is willing to grant, there are several things to consider. Awards of marital property, a couple’s standard of living, the health of the spouses and future earning capacity all factor into spousal support.
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