Spousal maintenance can be complicated and difficult to understand. Luckily, the state of Colorado has made it a little easier. Beginning in January 2014, Colorado courts calculate alimony (also known as spousal maintenance) with a standard formula. While you shouldn’t assume that the formula is a guaranteed payment, it does help attorneys and their clients to determine how much they may be entitled to.
The starting amount of alimony after divorce is decided based on the income of both spouses combined. This standard method applies to any couples making $240,000 or less throughout the year. For couples who meet the income requirements, maintenance is determined to be 40 percent of the higher income earner’s gross yearly income, minus 50 percent of the lower income earner’s gross yearly income. So, for example, if the higher income earner earns $100,000 annually, before taxes, and the lower income earner makes $60,000 the formula would work as follows:
Yearly Spousal Maintenance = .4 ($100,000)- .5 ($60,000) = $10,000
Monthly Spousal Maintenance = $10,000/12 = $833.34
There is another formula that will provide the duration of alimony payments. This formula scales dependent on the duration of the marriage, ranging from three years to 20 or more years. This formula is a little more complicated, so it is best to contact an attorney to help you determine the possible length of alimony payments. As an example, a spouse married for three years will pay alimony for 31 percent of the length of the marriage. A spouse married for 20 years pays alimony for 50 percent of the duration of the marriage.
While the alimony formula is extremely helpful in determining the likely alimony amount and duration, it is simply a guideline. Many judges do not use it, instead opting to calculate alimony based on the individual facts of a case. In this case, the formula is used as a baseline calculation from which a judge will then apply his or her own discretion based on marital property division and the needs of each party.