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Spousal support in Colorado: Lessons from a Hollywood divorce

It's not very often a Hollywood problem resonates in the real world. Leave it to David Hasselhoff, of former Baywatch fame, to break the typical trend. The star is providing an example of the long lasting consequences of divorce. The actor has reportedly filed for an adjustment to his current divorce agreement. A piece in the Toronto Sun discusses the legal move, noting Hasselhoff is seeking to reduce the agreed upon $21,000 monthly spousal support payments.

Spousal support: An issue that can impact anyone

Spousal support payments, also known as alimony, are generally calculated during the divorce proceeding. The laws impacting this process vary in each state and can change when new laws are passed. This was recently the case in Colorado, which underwent an update to its spousal maintenance process in 2014.

This update impacted the calculation used to determine how much spousal maintenance could be available to the parties of a divorce. The calculation is complex and involves percentages of each party's income. Essentially, 50 percent of the lesser earning party's monthly income is subtracted from 40 percent of the higher earning party's monthly income. The result of this equation gives the court a starting point, a number that can be adjusted depending on other factors.

It can help take an example. Let's say Bob and Ann are going through a divorce. Bob is a successful primary care physician with a monthly income of $15,000. Ann is a kindergarten teacher with a monthly income of $3,000. The court would take 50 percent of $3,000 ($1,500) from 40 percent of $15,000 ($6,000). So, $6,000 - $1,500 would equal $4,500. As a result, the court would generally consider providing Ann with a monthly spousal support payment of $4,500.

There are two important notes to consider with the above example. First, the equation is generally only applicable to couples that make a combined income of $240,000 or less that were married from three to 20 years. Second, various factors can be taken into consideration that could result in an adjustment to the calculated amount. This can include the final agreement for the property division determination portion of the proceeding as well as any child support payments that will be made.

Spousal support: Don't be Hasselhoff

Although a spousal support arrangement can be modified at a later date, it is not easy. As highlighted by Hasselhoff's example, the process generally requires moving forward with a suit in court. Instead, it is wiser to take the time to do it right the first time. As a result, it is wise to discuss your options with an experienced family law attorney.

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