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How is alimony calculated under Colorado law?

Contrary to popular belief, alimony is not awarded in any state based on fault in a divorce. Rather, it is awarded based on both need as well as the ability to pay. In Colorado, our readers may also hear alimony referred to as "spousal maintenance."

The very first thing that must happen for alimony to be awarded is for one of the divorcing parties to request it. Only then will a court take it under advisement. It is not an automatic award within a divorce. Multiple factors will be taken in consideration by a judge, including the gross income of both parties, distribution of marital assets, means to pay and financial need. Financial need is defined as it pertains to maintaining the standard of living set during the marriage. For example, if a couple lived in a three-bedroom, two-bath ranch style home in a decent neighborhood for 20 years, then one should not be expected to reside in a camper without power after divorce. There must exist a reasonable expectation to maintain the norm.

Sometimes, one spouse works while the other stays home over the years to care for the children and take care of the home. Therefore, the party that stays home becomes reliant on the spouse's income, and has none of their own. In this case, it would be reasonable for a court to award alimony. Under Colorado Law, a set formula is utilized for these calculations, as follows: 40% of the higher income earner's monthly adjusted gross income, minus one-half of the lower income earner's monthly adjusted gross income. The state of Colorado also uses statutory guidelines which determine the duration of the payments.

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