Legal Fees - MoneyIn most families, it is rare when both spouses have equal earning power. Typically, one spouse earns more than the other spouse. Many times, as a result of a divorce, one spouse is unable to support himself/herself without financial assistance from the other spouse. In these cases, the court has discretion to order the financially stronger spouse to pay the financially weaker spouse a monthly sum of money for a specific period of time. This is call spousal maintenance.

Effective January 1, 2014, major changes were made to the maintenance laws in the State of Colorado. The general assembly determined the prior maintenance laws provided little guidance to the courts in making maintenance awards and as a result there was no consistency in the awards in the judicial districts across Colorado.

Currently, there is a statutory framework which includes advisory guidelines for both the amount of maintenance and the duration of maintenance. The statutory framework for the advisory guidelines is complex. A party must first meet the requirements set forth for a determination of maintenance. The factors are set forth in Colorado Revised Statutes, 14-10-114 (3)(a)(i). If a court determines maintenance is appropriate, a formula is used to determine the guideline amount for both the amount and duration of the maintenance award. Once that guideline amount is determined, the court must then consider all relevant factors set forth in Colorado Revised Statutes 14-10-114(c) in reaching its final determination of the amount and duration.

The statutory framework is an advisor guideline. The court still has great discretion in its application of the factors which can be used to create an upward or downward adjustment of the guideline formula amount.

The parties are still able to reach their own decision as to maintenance, both in amount and duration. The parties remain able to reach “contractual” maintenance agreements wherein a fixed amount and duration are set by the parties, or “modifiable” maintenance where the amount or duration may be modified based upon a substantial change of circumstance. The court will generally approve the parties’ maintenance agreement, as long as the agreement is fair and not unconscionable.

As you can see, maintenance issues can be complex. I have the experience to ensure you reach an equitable resolution on the issue through settlement or I will take the matter to trial if settlement is not attainable.