Colorado’s spousal support laws

Colorado has a formula to help the court determine the amount and length of spousal support awards.

In 2014, Colorado's spousal support laws received an overhaul after two years of preparatory work that included convening a comprehensive a task force and training the state's judges. The state's spousal support system had long been criticized as being too arbitrary, and in an effort to correct this Colorado joined a number of other states that passed laws looking to introduce more uniformity into their spousal support awards.

Support formula

Colorado now has a formula the court can use to calculate spousal support awards, similar to the way that the court uses a formula to determine child support. If the couple had been married for at least three years and their combined income is less than $360,000, the court will take 40 percent of the higher-earner's monthly gross income and subtract 50 percent of the lower-earner's monthly gross income to reach a support award amount. The length of the obligation will be based on how long the couple was married.

Factors affecting support awards

The law does not require courts to strictly adhere to the formula when determining spousal support awards. The court is free to consider other factors when determining the amount and length of spousal support awards, including:

  • Each spouse's share of marital property in the property division
  • Other financial resources of the recipient spouse
  • The resources of the payor spouse
  • Non-economic or economic contributions to the marriage
  • The lifestyle the spouses enjoyed during the marriage
  • The earning potential of each spouse
  • The age and health of each spouse
  • Temporary spousal support awards
  • Whether the spouses historically earned less or more income than the income reported at the time of divorce
  • Whether circumstances justify awarding a small spousal support award to preserve a claim to a larger award in the future
  • Whether a spouse is the custodian of a child that makes it impossible for the spouse to work outside the home
  • Any other factors the court deems relevant

An attorney can help

While the Colorado's spousal support formula may increase uniformity in spousal support awards across the state, judges still have considerable discretion in determining spousal support awards. It is crucial for you to have the assistance of an experienced attorney when facing issues related to spousal support. A skilled spousal support lawyer can help ensure that the court treats you fairly when determining a spousal support award.

Keywords: divorce; spousal support; alimony; property division