How Does Colorado Determine Alimony (Maintenance) in Divorces?

Alimony – we actually don’t use that word here in Colorado. It’s the same thing, but we use the word maintenance instead. The reason we use the word maintenance is because it’s need based here in Colorado. It’s not as if you just should have maintenance/alimony because someone is at fault or someone has been bad and they need to be punished. Here in Colorado, regardless of how bad the other party is, you’re not going to be able to get alimony or maintenance unless you fulfill on what we now have as a maintenance formula.

Colorado’s formula went into effect at the beginning of 2014, so it is a new formula. It also doesn’t go into effect unless you’ve had at least three years of marriage. If you are under three years of marriage, then the formula does not apply. You might be able to get short-term temporary maintenance/alimony to get you over until you get a job but the formula itself won’t come into effect unless you get married a relatively significant period of time, which courts have determined is three years.

Once you hit that three year mark, the formula comes into effect. Historically, we used to argue about maintenance all the time. Now, there’s less arguing about it because judges like formulas. Formulas make things easier. The maintenance formula itself has some complexities to it that are beyond this article, however, if you wanted to use a rule of thumb, it would be that the spouse that needed maintenance would probably get 40% of the other spouse’s salary minus 50% of the salary that the spouse with a less income already makes.

The only question at that point is the period of time that you give the maintenance. It’s between a third of your marriage to a half of your marriage depending on how long you’ve been married. The longer you’ve been married, the closer you’re going to get to the halfway point for the number of years that you would get maintenance. For instance, if you’re married for 20 years, you’ll probably get maintenance for 10 years. If you are a stay at home mother, let’s say and you haven’t worked in years and years and years and you’re in your 50’s, chances are you’ll get 40% of your spouse’s salary for that 10 years.

I’m not promising that’s exactly right because like I said, there are many complexities to the stat sheet and you’d have to come in and really sit down with me and really look for me to come up with what that maintenance formula look like. Don’t take the above as gospel. That’s kind of the thumbnail sketch of how we do maintenance currently here in Colorado.