Maintenance, just to be clear, is really alimony. We just don’t call it that here in Colorado, we call it maintenance. It is money that is given from one former spouse to the other spouse because that spouse has a need for support for some period of time.
We do have a formula for maintenance here in Colorado that started this past year. The question would be whether that formula should be changed on an ongoing basis. Significant change is required to modify maintenance. If you change jobs that might be one of those reasons.
Here’s the key to it. What is the job change due to? Did you lose your job? Did it get downsized? Can you find another job making the same amount of money, or is it a situation where you really can’t? In many cases a person can’t.
If there is a job change and you are going to make less money in this new job and you have no control over the fact that you’re going to make less money in this new job, then it may be a case for changing your maintenance.
The defense that the other side can bring up is that your “underemployed”. That would be relevant if let’s say you quit your job because you just really didn’t want to be a stockbroker anymore. You just couldn’t stand one more day being a stockbroker and you really want to brew beer for a living.
Now you’re a beer brewer, and you’re going to have to make a case of why that’s not underemployment. You are making $15 an hour and as a stockbroker you were making $200,000 a year. The court is going to look at you and say, “Well you know, that’s really underemployment.”
We’ve had cases where people made a case for it. They wanted to spend more time with their children. I think you have to be careful in a modification of maintenance that you’re not voluntarily underemployed.