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Alimony statute provides clearer guidance on amount and duration

Alimony in Colorado is often an uncertain issue. Colorado statute section 14-10-114 attempts to provide for a more reliable, less discretionary determination of alimony. That statute requires that the court, in a situation where one spouse has requested alimony, make specific findings with regard to a list of factors to consider prior to granting or denying the request.

How is alimony decided?

The court first determines what each spouse's gross income is. It must also review the previously divided marital property with regard to who received what. When doing so, it will consider if a spouse's property, whether it be marital property or separate property, creates or could generate income for that spouse. It will consider any other financial resources of both parties. Lastly, it will determine what the financial need was for each spouse as it existed during the marriage.

Factors contributing to alimony determinations

Once the court has made determinations on the above four factors, it then moves on to determine the amount of alimony, if any, it should order. To make this next determination, the court must consider another set of criteria. It must review the statutorily provided guideline amount and the duration of the alimony obligation that is set out by statute, and which is based on both the length of the marriage and the combined gross incomes of the spouses. Factors for consideration also include:

  • Marital lifestyle, duration and historical income of the parties
  • Financial wherewithal of the paying and receiving spouses, respectively, including employability
  • Marital property division and whether the court can award additional property to reduce need for alimony
  • Health and age of the spouses
  • Contributions to the marriage or to economic, occupational or educational level of a spouse

Generally, for the guidelines to apply, the marriage length must be at least three years and combined income no greater than $240,000. If alimony is appropriate based on the factors considered, and the marriage does not exceed 20 years, then the guidelines provide the formula for determining the amount of the alimony as well as the duration.

Attaining help with alimony

Alimony after the divorce is often an important aspect, along with other steps, of financially transitioning from married life to an independent life. Whether such financial support is of limited duration or life-long, it provides the spouse with less financial wherewithal a more equal footing at the end of the marriage, and moving forward.

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