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Colorado Spousal Maintenance Law: Choosing Between Court and Mediation

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Before jumping into a courtroom hearing about spousal support in Colorado, be sure you know whether the laws are working in your favor.  Like child support, spousal maintenance laws in Colorado are based upon standard formulas, percentages and calculations which are not designed to address every unique situation. 

 

 

Mediation, on the other hand, does not require divorcing couples to use the State’s formulas for spousal maintenance.  With mediation, you can work out a support arrangement that takes your family’s individual needs into account.  For example, if you have a disabled child to care for, or need to further your education before earning enough money to support yourself, you may find that the maintenance formulas dictated by Colorado law are not flexible enough to provide the amount of support you need.  Or, if you are the provider of support, you may be in a career where your income isn’t consistent enough to pay the same amount of spousal support all year round.  A mediator can help you adjust the amount of maintenance to ensure it makes sense for both parties.

According to Colorado law, temporary spousal maintenance is a form of spousal support that lasts from the time the couple files for divorce until the final decree of divorce is issued.  A Colorado Springs spousal support lawyer can guide you through this process.

Depending on your annual household income, a temporary maintenance may be worth considering using the State’s formulas: 

  • For couples with a combined income less than $75K per year, the calculation is done by taking 40% of the higher income earner’s income, and subtracting 50% of the lower income earner’s wages.  
  • If the parties have a combined income over $75K, Colorado law allows the judge considerable discretion in determining the appropriate amount of support, including the parties’ individual financial circumstances, the standard of living during the marriage, and their individual earning capacities (as determined education, training and work experience).

While less common than it was in the past, permanent spousal support is generally only awarded when the marriage lasted more than 20 years, or when one partner is permanently disabled.  In cases like these, a final decree will include a spousal support arrangement based on need, as well as the ability to pay. 

If none of these scenarios will work in your situation, Colorado maintenance law still allows divorcing couples to “waive” these formulaic approaches through mediation.  Professional mediators can help a couple agree to a different amount that works best for their unique circumstances. 

Consult a Colorado Springs spousal support attorney for guidance in choosing the right option for your situation.  In many cases, spousal maintenance can be best determined outside of the courtroom. 

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MPatMarrisonFor over a quarter century, we have helped people during what is often the darkest time in their lives. Divorce is not easy even under the best of circumstances. For most people, family is central. Having something go wrong in the family can have a ripple effect that extends beyond the home and into other areas.

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