In 2014, Colorado state law changed to provide a formula to help judges presiding over a divorce to determine spousal maintenance, spousal support or alimony as it is commonly known. While many people have opinions on what spousal support should (or should not) be, The Colorado Springs Gazette explains that “[t]hese guidelines aren’t intended to equalize income for the two households after divorce but to have them with comparable means.” With this in mind, for anyone whose marriage is on the rocks, it is worth learning more about this formula and how it could affect the future without a spouse.
According to The Denver Post, Colorado’s new law is part of a nationwide movement toward spousal maintenance formulas. The Post explains that this formula, while only a guideline for the judges, applies to marriages where the combined income is less than $240,000 and lasted between three and 20 years. The formula consists of taking 40 percent from the spouse who earns more and then subtracting half of what the lower earning spouse makes from that 40 percent. So if one spouse makes an annual income of $100,000 and the other earns $50,000, the formula would award $15,000 annually to the lower earner ($40,000 – $25,000) for a certain period of time.
Judges are still able to use their discretion, but the idea is to have more consistency in maintenance awards throughout the state, rather than certain jurisdictions that are more favorable for one party over the other. These formulas were created to encourage couples to resolve their issues in divorce mediation, or settlement, rather than through a court battle. Using a mediator in a divorce will not necessitate the use of a spousal support formula, as the two spouses are able to privately decide for their own situation what would be a fair division of assets that both parties can live with.